Svetlana Izambayeva, 36, won a beauty pageant in 2005 for HIV-positive women, becoming one of the first Russians to bring the country’s HIV/Aids epidemic to the public eye
Svetlana Izambayeva, 36, is one of Russia’s most unusual beauty queens. The former hairdresser from the Volga River city of Cheboksary was crowned Miss Positive during a 2005 pageant for HIV-positive women.
She was one of the first Russians to publicly disclose their status; tens of millions saw her do so on national television. Four years later, Izambayeva’s widowed mother died, and she was denied custody of her two little brothers.
Russian law does not allow an HIV-positive person to become a child’s legal guardian. The boys ended up in an orphanage where they were beaten, had their belongings stolen and got lice.
“I went through eight trials to win them back,” Izambayeva, red-haired and…
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