We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Kyrgyzstan addresses barriers faced by the PWUD community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize a more supportive drug policy; a strong PWUD community that is respected by society and the government; and increased access to high-quality services for (young) PWUD.
Low access to healthcare and an unstable political context
The Kyrgyz Republic is a country with low HIV prevalence in the general population. However, between 2006 and 2015, the number of officially registered cases of HIV infections in the country rose 5.7 times to a total number of 6,402 people living with HIV. Key populations carry a heavy burden of the epidemic, for example the HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) is 12,4%. Injecting drug use is the primary driver of HIV infection in the Kyrgyz Republic, where more than 50% of HIV infections occur in PWID. One of the reasons that there has been some increase is the limited access to prevention programmes and healthcare for key populations.
For the last four years, the overall political situation in Kyrgyzstan has been fragile and dynamic at the same time. The year 2014 was marked by a troubling trend in the country, as the government
failed to promote and consolidate political and civil rights that many had hoped would follow the 2010 constitutional reforms and change of government. The rise of religious and radical nationalistic movements has led to sporadic cases of discrimination and violence against key populations. The spring of 2016 brought long-awaited positive changes, when the country’s parliament finally declined a draft law on “foreign agents” due to strong political pressure.
PWUD claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization of how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the PWUD community developed a specified Theory of Change We that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The Theory of Change describes how we plan to realize a more supportive drug policy; a strong PWUD community that is respected by society and the government; and increased access to high-quality services for (young) PWUD.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Rolling-out stigma index research;
- Facilitating community strenghtening and community leadership;
- Developing tools and training the community on public monitoring of services and respect of rights;
- Organizing community events to educate young people on SRHR and HIV, to decrease stigma and discrimination amongst the general population towards PWUD and PLHIV, and raise awareness on HIV.
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Participating in regional meeting and conference EECA;
- Creating an enabling environment among law enforcement towards prevention programmes and PWUD;
- Monitoring the implementation of the guideline “On the prevention of HIV infection by authorized state bodies of Internal Affairs, the Drug Control and Penitentiary in
the Kyrgyz Republic and interacting with vulnerable groups”Initiating research on the relation between violence and HIV.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Providing health services for female PWUD and PWUD in prisons;
- Planning and developing a project for young PWUD;
- Developing a clinical protocol on new types of drugs in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Narcology centre;
- Establishing a working group with NGOs and GOs to develop guidelines for medical workers and social workers on providing OST clients SRHR information and services.
4. Foster global and in-country processes and partnerships that reinforce results
- Exploring opportunities for collaboration between key population organisations;
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partner AFEW Kyrgyzstan to put PWUD’ health issues on the political agenda and get them included in national plans. Their work is internationally supported by AFEW and GNP+.
Our other projects in Kyrgyzstan