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UNICEF supported outreach cuts HIV’s spread in Uzbek communities

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UNICEF supported outreach cuts HIV’s spread in Uzbek communities

© UNICEF / Uzbekistan / Taylor / 2009
Roma community members now know the dangers of HIV and actively seek medical advice.

By Matthew Taylor

Yurunatuz is a Roma community in Margilan, Uzbekistan. Drug use is a real problem here and 10 people of the 810 strong group recently died of AIDS.


Halida works with them to prevent the diseases spread. She dreams that the community will one day fully and openly address HIV and end drug use.


She works for clinic number 4 and recently received UNICEF sponsored outreach training. Where once people went to traditional healers to cure their ills they now go to her. 


‘I don’t get scared when they all group around me - and I’m always around’ she says. ‘They’re tight knit bunch and they trust me now on their own and as a group.’

Halida lives next to the community. She’s often seen taking tea with local leaders and doing the rounds. The trust she’s fostered has led to new HIV cases being exposed and treated.


‘One mother was worried that her son had HIV as he injected drugs a lot’ she says. ‘She asked me to help her son get an HIV test and the boy turned out to be positive. He’s being counseled and cared for now.’


Yurunatuz is but one community across 5 regions that are receiving support from the UNICEF sponsored NGO ‘Hayot Sifati Hamrohi,’ meaning ‘partners in life quality.’ The NGO helps people like Halida reach out to communities to raise awareness on HIV and change behavior to stop its spread.


 

© UNICEF / Uzbekistan / Taylor / 2009
Halida, (Centre) a UNICEF trained outreach worker, has uncovered new cases of HIV and helped end stigma in the Roma community.

But raising awareness is only half the story. UNICEF is supporting the ‘Tarikat’ or ‘Enlightenment’ Centre for Adolescent Reproductive Health to train doctors in modern medical practices to give confidential, safer, better care and advice for the most at risk adolescents. These include people involved in the sex trade, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men. 


UNICEF, “Tarikat” and ‘Hayot Sifati Hamrohi’ are supporting the regional authorities aim to raise awareness on HIV within the Government’s National HIV/AIDS strategy.


Ahmad Bahrom, a community leader, says that he and others now understand that you can live safely with HIV positive people and how the disease is transmitted. Halida’s dream may not be far off.


For more information please contact:

Dr. Komiljon Akmedov UNICEF Uzbekistan HIV/AIDS Programme Officer: kakhmedov@unicef.org
Matthew Taylor, UNICEF Uzbekistan Communications: mataylor@unicef.org

 

 
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