Vahdat, Tajikistan, December 1, 2017 – The United States Chargé d’Affaires Kevin Covert joined the Deputy Head of Vahdat District Farzona Khojazoda and the Director of the Vahdat District AIDS Center Abdurashid Rajabov at a World AIDS Day event to help raise awareness about HIV in Tajikistan and around the world through musical performances, quizzes on HIV, and sports and drawing competitions. The USAID Central Asia HIV Flagship Activity, financed by the U.S. government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), collaborated closely with national governmental and non-government agencies to arrange similar awareness events in Rudaki, Hissor, Khujand, Bobojon Ghafurov, Istaravshan, Konibodom and Panjakent.
The spread of HIV infection remains a serious health problem in Tajikistan. According to UNAIDS, there are an estimated 14,000 people living with HIV in Tajikistan, but only about 50 percent of them have been diagnosed. Most of the people affected by the epidemic in Tajikistan belong to marginalized groups, and many people do not seek testing or treatment because they fear stigma and discrimination. Every year on December 1, World AIDS Day events around the world work to raise public awareness of HIV, combat stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and vulnerable populations, and commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness since the beginning of the epidemic.
The USAID HIV Flagship Activity has piloted an innovative approach to reach the populations who are most at risk of contracting HIV, including people who inject drugs and people living with HIV and their social networks. Through peer-to-peer outreach efforts within these social networks, the project is able to reach more deeply into these hard-to-access populations. The project provides rapid HIV testing to diagnose new cases and link people to care and provides community-based support for those on treatment.
In Tajikistan, PEPFAR funds an integrated HIV/AIDS program through USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which together contribute to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 global targets: by 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression. PEPFAR invests approximately $15 million per year in Central Asia, of which approximately 30 percent comes to Tajikistan for HIV prevention and treatment programs.