Uzbekistan: HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care Among Vulnerable Groups of Population

21 February 2019, Tashkent, Uzbekistan  - The Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA), held the Roundtable on the topic "Health Reforms in Uzbekistan: HIV prevention, treatment and care among vulnerable groups of population."

 "HIV is not purely the issue of the healthcare specialists, it is an issue that requires the attention of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis. In Uzbekistan, the problem of HIV is recognized at the Government level. A prominent evidence to this is the adoption of the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On additional measures to counteract the spread of the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus and the prevention of nosocomial infections" of 22 June 2018, which align HIV diagnosis in line with the last WHO standards , ensuring the detection of infection at an early stage, timely preventive measures and provision of medical care to people living with HIV. We, the Members of the Parliament, are interested in ensuring the effective implementation of the Law and other legislative documents locally. That is why we met today to discuss achievements and challenges faced in the places, as well as learn about international standards." - highlighted in his speech Mr. Akmal Saidov, the Chair of the Committee on democratic institutions, NGOs and citizen self-government bodies, Legislative Chamber of the Parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

"An important part of legislation development in the field of HIV infection in our country is a problem discussion with vulnerable groups of population, in particular people who inject drugs", said Ms. Nuriya Aytjanova, Deputy Chair of the Committee on citizen health care of the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

In Uzbekistan, Government is committed to address the problem of HIV. The policy in this area is based on a multisectoral approach. The State maintains active cooperation with United Nations agencies and international organizations to combat HIV/AIDS, encourages fruitful collaboration and development of partnerships among government organizations and civil society institutions, including the involvement of people living with HIV and representatives of vulnerable groups in the fight against AIDS. Some 60 deputies, senators, representatives of key ministries and agencies, non-governmental and non-profit organizations discussed strategies to prevent the spread of HIV through the provision of high-quality services of diagnostics, treatment, care, and support for patients. UNODC provides support in achievement of universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for people who use drugs and for people in prisons. UNODC's work is aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular SDG target 3.3 to end AIDS by 2030 and the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy 2016-2021 that calls for a 75 per cent reduction of new HIV infections including among people who inject drugs by 2020.

"It is estimated that people who inject drugs are 22 times more at risk of HIV compared with the general population. This risk arises particularly from sharing needles and injection equipment but is reinforced through barriers in accessing HIV prevention treatment and care services created by discrimination, marginalisation and poverty." - highlighted Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia.

UNODC presented international standards in the area of HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who use drugs, which would draw more attention to this category of vulnerable groups of the population. "Legislative and political reforms related to HIV infection among people who inject drugs should be widely supported, including improvement of the criminal code, legal literacy strengthening, access to justice, human rights and reducing of stigma and discrimination", said Dr. Nazokat Kasymova, UNODC Programme Officer.

Furthermore, the analytical review of the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan on human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS, developed jointly by the National Human Rights Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNODC was presented at the Roundtable. The document draws particular attention to the shaping of an adequate perception of people with HIV-positive status, protection of the rights of children and women in the context of HIV/AIDS, as well as the social nature of HIV prevention among people who inject drugs.

The participants emphasized that the social norms and stigmatization among society towards people who inject drugs, prevalence of drug use, limited access to quality healthcare services, fear of discrimination are among the factors contributing to the risk of infection.

The event was organized within the framework of Sub-Programme 3 "Drug Prevention, Treatment and Reintegration and HIV Prevention" of the Programme for Central Asia (2015-2019) with the support of the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNAIDS (UBRAF).

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