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Health Ministers meet to tackle infant HIV in Central Asia

Regional Conference on the Prevention of Parent-to-Child Transmission of HIV in Central Asia. Almaty, Kazakhstan, 1-3 March.

ALMATY. 1-3 March, 2005.  Representatives from Health Ministries across Central Asia are gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to discuss how to halve HIV infection in infants by 2010.

In his opening address to the Conference, Alexandre Zouev, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan reminded delegates that the countries of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States face “one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world”.
 
This Conference is the first in a series of three events planned this year by UNICEF Regional Office, WHO and other partners to support  national governments in Central and Eastern Europe, CIS and the Baltics in their efforts to tackle the growing problem of transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies – action that will be crucial in the fight to stem the epidemic.

Speaking at the opening press conference in Almaty, Doctor Sanjiv Kumar, UNICEF Regional Programme Officer for Health and Nutrition, stated that “although much work has been done to address the issue of parent-to-child transmission of HIV infection in Central Asia, we all should work harder to ensure that every child born in the region is free of HIV infection.”

The Conference has been initiated by the American International Health Alliance (AIHA) with the support from USAID, UNICEF and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The Conference will review progress on the region’s Strategic Framework for the Prevention of HIV Infection in Infants. It will also help all partners draw up national plans for implementation of the strategic framework for prevention of HIV infection in infants.

While progress varies from country to country in Central Asia, and the number of HIV/AIDS cases is not as high as in parts of Eastern Europe, no Central Asian country is on track to achieve the goals set at the UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS in 2001 – goals that were reaffirmed at the EU Conference on Breaking the Barriers: Partnerships to Fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia in 2004. The rate of new HIV infections continues to increase at an alarming pace each year.

Conference participants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan represent Health Ministries, National HIV/AIDS and Maternal Child Health programmes, and NGOs working on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Directors of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) pilot projects from the cities of Almaty, Temirtau, Karaganda and Pavlodar in Kazakhstan have been invited to the Conference by AIHA to share their practical experiences. Participants will also learn more about AIHA’s highly successful Infant HIV prevention programme, which is  operating in Odessa, Ukraine.

“This comprehensive prevention, care, and treatment programme has resulted in a 75 percent decrease in mother-to-child transmissions of HIV in this seaport city,” says Dr. Natalya Nizova, AIHA’s consultant on HIV/AIDS from Odessa Clinical Hospital.

Representatives from donor and technical agencies, such as WHO, UNICEF, CDC, UNFPA, UNAIDS, CAPACITY project, DDRP, and other USAID contractors will brief delegates on their work to prevent HIV infection in infants in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


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For more information, please, contact:
Ms. Gauhar Abdygaliyeva, Communication Officer,
UNICEF Kazakhstan
Tel: +7- 3172 32 62 06, e-mail: gabdygaliyeva@unicef.org

Ms. Meruert Rakhimova, APO HIV/AIDS - Adolescence,
UNICEF Kazakhstan
Tel: +7- 3172 32 62 06, e-mail: mrakhimova@unicef.org

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