Nejat Unlu

Ashoka Fellow
Istanbul, Turkey
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Nejat Unlu was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Turkey is just beginning to recognize the nature and magnitude of their AIDS problem. Nejat has organized the first citizen organization (CO), Positive Life Support Centre, to empower those with the HIV virus to support one another, raise awareness, press for ending discrimination, and lobby for reform in state health policy and practices. Positive Life Support Centre provides HIV patients the care and support that the state does not; often due to discrimination.
While the few AIDS groups in Turkey work strictly on research and prevention with the non-infected, Nejat builds local solidarity networks that include volunteers, family members, and health care workers directly serving the growing infected population. These groups provide care, advocate for equal treatment and dignity, and ultimately help HIV patients to help themselves. Nejat also works with media and within popular culture avenues to generate understanding and empathy for those living with the disease.
Nejat’s model has gained international recognition, and been replicated in Turkey’s second largest city. Recently, the Turkish Ministry of Health asked Nejat to be an advisor to their six-year AIDS policy plan; incorporating some of his strategies for dealing with the rising AIDS problem.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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