Stemming the incipient HIV epidemic in the region
In Central Asia, HIV/AIDS is closely connected with injecting drug use. In the Central Asian countries, injecting remains the most prominent method of using heroin and other opiates, with between 60 and nearly 100 percent of users across the region injecting.
UNODC, as a co-sponsor of the Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), is the lead agency for HIV and AIDS prevention and care among injecting and other drug users and in prison settings. Since the first detected cases of HIV in the region, in the early 1990s, UNODC has been working to stem the flood of new cases in Central Asia. UNODC's goal has been to assist States in implementing large-scale and wide-ranging interventions to prevent HIV infections and in providing care and support to people living with HIV and AIDS. Current and past activities have focused on developing an understanding of the range of comprehensive services for prevention of HIV and other blood-borne infections among injecting and other drug users and in prison settings; supporting focussed interventions; improving standards for professional qualifications for healthcare workers and prison staff; developing comprehensive educational programmes; and assisting in legislative review and reforms to facilitate universal access to services.
The current OPEC Fund/UNODC partnership project on Effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care among vulnerable populations in Central Asia aims to establish a favorable environment in all project countries to better implement HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities among injecting drug users including those in prison settings, and to facilitate regional information sharing of lessons learned in this area. As part of this project, UNODC has worked with national counterparts to development five-year Action Plans on introducing and scaling up opiate substitution therapy.
SUCCESS STORY: UNODC was the among those international organizations that helped start the first ever TRUST points - service delivery outlets for comprehensive HIV prevention among injecting and other drug users in the region.
In 2007, UNODC ROCA finalized the large scale Regional Study on HIV/AIDS and Drug Use. The study consisted of a knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) survey and a mapping exercise focused on the interrelationship between various structural and contributory factors that have impacted the development of the HIV epidemic in Central Asia. The study highlighted key national and sub-national trends and produced concrete recommendations which will serve to guide policy makers and international donors in creating effective interventions.