"I faced a dilemma," Lobkov recalled during an interview this month at the independent television station's Moscow studios. "Either I was going to play the journalist, or I was going to be honest with myself and with people because this doctor was the same doctor who told me about my diagnosis and who treated me through my first year of infection."
Lobkov is the most prominent figure in Russia to go public with the virus, and his coming out resonated among the population.
"You can only fight against such stigma with action," he said.
"I started to answer them," he says of what became a nightly routine. "I'd come home from work and sit down, turn on my computer, open my WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook, and so on."
Lobkov says many Muscovites writing to him live and work in Moscow, but are unable to receive antiretroviral therapy from state clinics in the capital because they are registered in, say, Oryol, Kursk, or Sakhalin. Worse still, he says, even if the people are able to travel to their registered places of origin for treatment, they often find that the needed medication is not available.
The situation has led him to call for an end to opaque tenders for medical supplies in Russian regions, as well as legislation allowing HIV-positive citizens to receive antiretroviral therapy and monitoring regardless of their location in the Russian Federation.
One Clip, One Fate
But Lobkov stresses that he is not calling for others to follow his lead by revealing their HIV status. "There's no need to make a show out of this. What for?" he says. "I don't want people to repeat this. Well, they can, but it's up to them. I'm not calling for it."