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IRIN Asia | Asia | UZBEKISTAN | UZBEKISTAN: New support for those living with HIV/AIDS | HIV AIDS | News Items
Wednesday 28 December 2005
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UZBEKISTAN: New support for those living with HIV/AIDS

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


A mother receives counselling at the Ishonch va Hayot NGO after discovering she and her child are HIV positive.

TASHKENT, 16 Aug 2005 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - When a police officer barged into Natalya’s home in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, screaming at her that she had AIDS she nearly died of shame. She had not even told her parents about the disease which she contracted by sharing a hypodermic needle.

“I had problems with the police earlier as I was an injecting drug user. When they came to the house the police started insulting me loudly saying that I was infected with HIV. It was a shock for my parents - and the neighbours were watching,” the 34-year-old said.

She lived for more than a year at home, too afraid to go out. Other HIV positive people she knew off had been attacked in the streets or in shops because of their status.

Then by chance she saw an advert for 'Ishonch va Hayot' meaning 'Hope and Live,' the first Uzbek NGO created to support and protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

She visited the premises of the NGO where she has had the opportunity to meet others living with the syndrome and now says her life has more purpose than ever before. The organisation has been running for more than two years with financial support from UNAIDS and the international NGO, Mercy Corps.

“Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS is very acute here,” said Sergey Uchaev, head of Ishonch va Hayot.

Apart from their immediate medical needs, confidentiality is a key concern for those living with the virus in Uzbekistan.

“HIV positive people are often detained by the police. Many are injecting drug users and or commercial sex workers. The police have many prejudices and denigrate them by telling whoever they want to about their condition,” Sergey added.

Health workers also frequently fail to respect the confidentiality of the individual. A common abuse is to deliver HIV test results in unsealed envelopes and to leave them with neighbours, friends or parents.

Some health workers refuse to treat people living with HIV/AIDS. In the past three months alone there have been three cases of HIV positive people being ejected from state hospitals in Uzbekistan, the NGO reported.

According to official statistics, by the end of 2004 there were more than 5,500 HIV positive people in the country but experts believe the real figure is several times higher.

The success of their work in the capital has led Ishonch va Hayot to visit seven provinces of the country in order to launch a national network of groups of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Health experts are worried that the region is ripe for a rapid increase in the disease, due mainly to the rising number of intravenous drug users.

“Uzbekistan has passed the initial stage – now the disease is spreading very fast. At this stage it is very important to support those living with the disease to prevent it being transmitted from high risk groups to the population at large," said Aziz Khudoberdiev, a UNAIDS programme officer in Uzbekistan.


 Theme(s) HIV AIDS
Other recent UZBEKISTAN reports:

Berlin to examine prosecution request,  20/Dec/05

Forced labour continues in cotton industry,  9/Dec/05

Campaign to halt the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS begins,  1/Dec/05

New closed trials for Andijan accused,  1/Dec/05

Concern over jailed opposition leader,  29/Nov/05

Other recent HIV AIDS reports:

WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 309 covering 17 - 23 December 2005, 23/Dec/05

MIDDLE EAST: MIDDLE EAST: Weekly round-up Number 53 for 18 – 22 December 2005, 22/Dec/05

SENEGAL: Bringing condoms out of the closet, 20/Dec/05

SIERRA LEONE: First post-war countrywide survey shows 1.5 percent HIV prevalence, 20/Dec/05

NAMIBIA: OVC population to double in 15 years, 19/Dec/05

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