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Public hearings on OST in Almaty

Public hearings on OST took place, in which representatives of the Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV took part on June 7, 2016 in Almaty.

Today, drug use and the increase in the spread of HIV are a major public health problem in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In our country, the HIV epidemic extends mainly to vulnerable groups of people, among injecting drug users (LUIN) and their sexual partners, sex workers, men, having sex with men. According to estimates, the number of LUIN is more than 127,000 people, and according to official figures – 18,906, which is 6 times less. To treat addiction in Kazakhstan, as in the whole world, different approaches and methods are being used, including opioid substitution therapy (OST) with the use of methadone. OST has been used in the world since the late 1960s. This method of treatment is well studied and its effectiveness has long been proven by numerous studies. OST allows:

-to reduce or stop the use of illegal drugs, which leads to a decrease in the level of crime and criminal activity among LUIN;

– Reduce the risk of overdose, and hence the mortality rate;

– to improve the quality of life and health of those who take substitution therapy;

improve adherence to treatment for diseases requiring long-term treatment (HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis).

In addition, the economic effectiveness of OST is also proved in comparison with traditional inpatient drug treatment.

Since 2008, in Kazakhstan, as a pilot project to provide OST in several regions. Today he works in 10 cities where methadone sites are open. In total, the program covers 295 drug addicts.

– All these people suffer from long-term drug dependence, many are repeatedly convicted, some are infected with HIV. They made many attempts to get rid of addiction, but could not. The last and only hope was methadone. Thanks to the project, these people, once thrown out to the side of life, rejected even by their relatives, returned to society, stopped stealing and robbing, began to work, found families and the meaning of life, “says Nurali Amanzholov, President of the KazZoyuz Union of PLWH.

Meanwhile, a very negative image of OST, in particular methadone, has developed in society. Until now, the site is not open in the largest city of the republic – Almaty, where the drug situation is quite tense, and the rate of spread of HIV infection is highest in the country. The purpose of the public hearings was a comprehensive discussion of the pros and cons of OST and elucidating its prospects for further development. Public hearings have already taken place in a number of cities.

Representatives of the expert and medical community, heads of the republican and city AIDS centers, Almaty Health Department, the Republican Scientific Practical Center for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Addiction, representatives of international and non-governmental public organizations, outreach workers of the Center participated in the public hearings in Almaty. AIDS in Almaty, clients of OST.

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