Efforts To Control HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan Showing Success Despite Increase in Cases Associated With Sexual Transmission
Efforts to control the spread of HIV in Kazakhstan are succeeding despite an increase in the number of cases associated with sexual transmission, according to Valery Chernyavskiy, the country's Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria portfolio manager, IRIN News reports. "In general, our assessment of the situation is positive," Chernyavskiy said, adding that the Kazakhstan government is "working very closely with their partners -- both local and international." The government's program aims to prevent HIV transmission through behavior change and harm reduction strategies targeting high-risk groups, including injection drug users, commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men. The program also provides HIV/AIDS-related care and treatment. About 4,600 HIV/AIDS cases have been registered in Kazakhstan, but health officials say the actual number could be closer to 20,000. The majority of cases are believed to be transmitted through injection drug use. However, the percentage of cases attributable to sexual transmission has increased from 5% in 2001 to 29% in 2004, according to Irina Savtchenko, UNAIDS country coordinator for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. In order to receive the remainder of its five-year Global Fund grant, which totals about $15.6 million over three years, Kazakhstan must implement a methadone treatment program for injection drug users. Although the country's previous government had approved the program, the current government has expressed reservations about the plan, Chernyavskiy said. "Nevertheless, we have official confirmation from the government that they will start two pilot areas in this component soon," he said (IRIN News, 8/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.