On December 3-5, USAID and the Central Asian Association of People Living with HIV (CAA PLHIV) convened the Second Regional Forum of People Living with HIV to support and strengthen the capacity of national organizations in Central Asia. In order to stop the spread of HIV in Central Asia, we must increase public awareness of the disease and challenge the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.
The event was attended by representatives of the Ministries of Health, the NCC Secretariat, the Committee on Women and Family Affairs, the Republican AIDS Center, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Women, UNODC, the NGO “AIDS Foundation East-West”.
The Forum promotes dialogue and exchange among organizations about efforts to prevent and reduce stigma and discrimination; prioritizes inter-regional cooperation with PLHIV networks; improves the availability of information on HIV prevention and PLHIV support programs; and develops partnerships and cooperation among government and civil society organizations that work with HIV.
For two days, the participants discussed the annual report on the activities of the CAAPLHIV, which was represented by President of the Association Mr. Nurali Amanzholov.
The results of the region’s first “Stigma Index” study were announced and participants discussed UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 objective, an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic through increased access to treatment and prevention services. By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
«We should not be afraid of people infected with HIV, we have to treat them with compassion, we should provide them with assistance they need. This is not such a worldwide epidemic. Moreover, I remember when I was little, and the disease only began to spread, there was a massive fear. But this is not the first and not the last disease, which will face our society. And I think that education and elimination of illiteracy – it is the best way to promote tolerance and prevent the spread of any epidemic». Ms. Leslie Hayden, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Tajikistan.
Another key topic of discussion was the main aspects of advocacy for people living with HIV. Presentations of country situations, the successful experience of partnerships to address important issues. On the activity, stability and development told representatives of the KAPLHIV Ibragimova Oksana, PA “SPIN Plus” Pulod Djamolov, Association “Country Network of PLWH “Kyrgyzstan Yevgeniya Kalinichenko.
Access to treatment, provision of drugs, financing purchases, transitional situation, the work of the CAB are the important activities of the Central Asian Association of PLHIV. In recent years, the Association has initiated a number of innovations aimed at improving the provision of ARV medicines for people living with HIV in the region. For example, in Kazakhstan it is planned to conduct purchase of medicines using the UN mechanism. However, in the Kyrgyz Republic essential medicines are still imported into the country as humanitarian assistance. In this regard, participants noted, a lot remains to be done to improve the situation for the sake of the health and lives of thousands of people.
“I consider it important at the Forum the exchange of experiences, demonstration of best practices for the application of them in their own countries, so that people can receive timely quality care.” Andrei Romanov, “Centre Plus” NGO consultant, Osh, Kyrgyz Republic.
Another topical theme of the Forum – gender policy in terms of people living with HIV. The event represented a gender analysis of the situation in Central Asia, women’s initiatives and the gender-oriented programs implementation practice.
“In Kazakhstan Network of Women Living with HIV came together 30 professional women. With our participation at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs established a working group on PMTCT among women PWID. Activists network includes today at the headquarters of the protection of mothers and children in the local authorities. There are other useful initiatives to promote the protection of human rights, access to health and social services. Second Regional Forum of PLHIV promoted active discussion, productive collaboration. It is an astonishing experience that personally gives me a lot of positive, energy and hope for the future”. Natalia Rudokvas activist of Kazakhstan Network of Women Living with HIV.
Since the beginning of the “LEADER for people living with HIV” project, there were conducted 14 workshops and trainings, 10 regional meetings, round tables and promo-actions, which is an invaluable experience. The event was attended by over 1,700 people. In addition, according to the results of the Forum there is adopted a resolution.