Teachers from 30 schools across the country to receive training on preventing social stigma

Information campaign has been launched on the prevention of stigma and supporting children and adolescents living with HIV and other chronic diseases

27 April 2021
Baurzhan standing in front of his school with other school children
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2018/unknown

NUR-SULTAN, 26 April 2021 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University and NGO Central Asian Association of People Living with HIV, launched an information campaign on the prevention of stigma* and supporting children and adolescents living with HIV and other chronic diseases. The campaign will take place in 30 pilot schools in Almaty, East Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Turkestan regions and cities of Almaty and Shymkent from April 26 to May 26.

“Through increasing knowledge about HIV among teachers we will help children and adolescents living with HIV and other chronic diseases to study successfully, maintain and strengthen physical and psychological health, not succumbing to depression and negative experiences,” Yerlan Aukenov, Vice Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan, said.

Pilot schools will receive special instructional guidelines based on the best international practices within the framework of the information campaign. The guidelines are designed for use in schools as well as by specialists of social protection and health care organisations to support children living with HIV or affected by HIV and other chronic conditions. The authors of the guidelines address real issues that children and families affected by HIV face in schools and how they can be addressed.

The guidelines suggest modern approaches to overcoming stigma and contain factual and reliable information on HIV, stigma and discrimination, living with HIV, disclosure and confidentiality, child protection and the concept of child-friendly schools for children with HIV and other chronic illnesses.

The instructional guidelines will be presented to schools and social protection and health care organizations on 19 May at the national online conference with the participation of school principals and deputy head teachers. The instructional guidelines will be adapted in the pilot schools and then disseminated to all relevant educational institutions of the country.

"In the interests of children and adolescents, it is important that school staff have comprehensive knowledge about HIV, its transmission modes and prevention. Teachers must provide scientific evidence-based information about HIV in a non-stigmatising and non-biased manner and must understand that an HIV-positive child is not a danger to others and that school is a place where everyone can get support without fear of discrimination", Nurali Amanzholov, President of the Central Asian Association of People Living with HIV, said.

According to the Kazakh Scientific Centre of Dermatology and Infectious Diseases of the Ministry of Health, Kazakhstan has 580 children and adolescents living with HIV. In 2020, specialists from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF assessed the implementation of national standards for psychological and social counselling and support in schools in six pilot regions. Although there are no registered cases of HIV transmission in schools in Kazakhstan, the results showed a high level of stigma towards children and adolescents living with HIV. Experts identified instances of stigma and discrimination experienced by children with HIV and their families in schools, boarding schools, pre-school and health care institutions.

Children and adolescents living with HIV experience difficulties related to the disease such as mental health issues and problems with strict adherence to the regimen of special antiretroviral drugs, which often lead to side effects. Many teachers in schools do not understand that HIV-positive children are not a danger to others and do not ensure that their status is kept confidential.

"Every child has the right to live without discrimination and infringement of its rights and interests. Special attention should be paid to vulnerable children, children with chronic illnesses. They should receive support and understanding in schools, they should feel comfortable and not fear discrimination from peers and teachers. The school may not know that its students and staff are HIV positive, but its friendly and supportive policies towards people living with HIV will benefit the school and society at large", said Arthur van Diesen, Representative of UNICEF Kazakhstan.


*Stigma is described as a dynamic process of devaluation of the individual, which "largely discredits" the individual in the eyes of others. The qualities from which stigma arises can be the most random, such as skin colour or manner of speaking.  In different cultures or societies, certain qualities are considered discreditable or unworthy.

HIV-related stigma is multifaceted and tends to develop and reinforce negative factors due to the association of HIV and AIDS with behaviours that are already considered marginal. Stigma and discrimination create a breeding ground for HIV transmission and greatly exacerbate the negative impacts of the epidemic. Stigma is highly damaging and can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, inferiority and isolation among HIV-positive children and adolescents. It can also lead to discrimination by individuals or institutions, resulting in direct harm and a violation of children's legal rights.

Information for editors:

The Association of Legal Entities Central Asian Association of People Living with HIV was established in 2009 by people living with HIV from four countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – to work together to support national organisations and improve the quality and dignity of people living with HIV.

For more information on the activities of CAA PLHIV, visit https://caapl.org/w.

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