World AIDS Day in Kyrgyzstan: Take the lead, keep the promise and let’s work together to stop AIDS!
By Olga Grebennikova
“The key for success in addressing HIV/AIDS in Kyrgyzstan will be a close collaboration between the Kyrgyz Government, the NGO sector and the donor community", said the Chair of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS and UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan, Timothy Schaffter, at the ceremony of the Jonathan Mann Award which took place in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on November 29, 2007.
As was underlined at the ceremony, Kyrgyzstan's efforts to fight the epidemic are impressive. At the World Summit held at the United Nations in September 2005, President Bakiev joined other world leaders in pledging to fully implement the Declaration of Commitment of HIV/AIDS adopted in 2001, by scaling up efforts for prevention, treatment, care and support so that every person, without exception, has access to these life-saving programmes.
Kyrgyzstan is considered to be a leader in Central Asia in establishing a multi-sectoral approach to HIV prevention. A Multi-sectoral Coordinating Committee has been in place since June 2005, and is playing a major role in coordinating the overall country response.
Compared to the most other countries affected by HIV/AIDS, Kyrgyzstan's indicators may not seem so alarming: Asof November1, 2007 1385 people in Kyrgyzstan live with HIV. However, Kyrgyzstan's epidemic is being propelled mainly by injecting drug use and there is a serious risk of a rapid and extensive spread of HIV.
Kyrgyzstan's legislative mechanisms are also highly committed to addressing the prevention of a large-scale epidemic. The law on HIV/AIDS promotes and protects the rights of people living with HIV and strengthens the national response to AIDS for further prevention of social and economic impact in accordance with the norms of international law.
The UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS supports various activities devoted to World AIDS Day 2007 in Kyrgyzstan, including a nation-wide public awareness campaign taking place currently in all of Kyrgyzstan's provinces, the 1st National Forum of AIDS Service NGOs conducted in Bishkek and the Jonathan Mann Awards.
Out of seven nominees for the Jonathan Mann Award, three were NGOs, three were individuals and one was a governmental agency. The UN Theme Group selected the Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice as the 2007 winner for its successful programs aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention among prisoners and staff in the penal system of the Kyrgyz Republic as well as providing social, medical and psychological services to HIV-positive prisoners.