BALKA: Women, HIV, and Drug Use in Ukraine
The fall of the Soviet Union led to a surge in injecting drug use and skyrocketing rates of HIV spread through shared injecting equipment. A documentary film directed by Anya Meksin and Leeza Meksin and produced by Sophie Pinkham, Balka details the lives of women struggling with drug use and HIV in Ukraine.
Through the course of the film the audience meets Zina and Marina, best friends and active drug users about to discover their HIV status; Tanya, HIV-positive mother of two who is receiving drug treatment but whose husband continues to use drugs; and Galya, a former user who now works as a peer-to-peer outreach worker.
Due to this complex subject matter, it is highly recommended that any screening of Balka include an informed group discussion of its major themes. Attached, find a viewing guide in both English and Russian intended to facilitate such conversations by providing background information for discussion leaders about the questions the film raises on women, drug use, and HIV.
Balka was made with the support of the Open Society Public Health Program's International Harm Reduction Development Program as well as the Institute of International Education's Fulbright Program.
Balka Film Discussion Guide (English) (1.1 Mb pdf file)
Download a PDF version of the discussion guide in English.
Balka Film Discussion Guide (Russian) (237.21 Kb pdf file)
Download a PDF version of the discussion guide in Russian.
Keep Families Together
We Must Not Forget the Children of the Incarcerated
As a new report shows, draconian anti-drug policies in Latin America don’t just harm people who use or sell substances; they harm the children and families of the incarcerated, too. Thankfully, there’s a better way.
End the Drug War
Reframing the Blame for the War on Drugs
The war on drugs is better understood as a war on people. To stop this useless and unjust destruction, we must change how we think—and talk—about people who use drugs.
The Consequences of Rising Female Incarceration Rates in Latin America
Punitive drug laws are the driving force behind women’s imprisonment, but two organizations are working together to reverse the trend.