Registered HIV cases
Estimated HIV cases
Newly registered cases in 2012
* CIS Interstate Committee for Statistics, December 2009.
** Kyrgyz Republican AIDS Centre, Ministry of Health, data as of January 2013
*** Kyrgyz Republican AIDS Centre, Ministry of Health, data as of January 2013
Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country located on the eastern-most frontier of Central Asia, which shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. In 1876 Kyrgyzstan fell under Russian rule, eventually becoming a Soviet republic, and later attaining independence as the Kyrgyz Republic in 1991, with Bishkek as its capital city. There are three main ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan, the largest of which are the Kyrgyz, followed by Russians and Uzbeks. Kyrgyzstan is one of only two countries of the former Soviet Union to have designated Russian as an official language, with Kyrgyz being added in 1991. The main religion is Islam followed by Russian Orthodox.
By 1991, an overwhelming majority of Kyrgyzstan’s exports relied on the Soviet trading bloc. Thus, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan fell victim to sharp economic decline. Even with support from major international donors, Kyrgyzstan has not fully emerged from its economic woes. Political instability has been momentous in the last few years, culminating in the ousting of Askar Akaev, after a 15-year presidency, in 2005, and of Kurmanbek Bakiev in 2010.
Kyrgyzstan’s locale places it on a major drug trafficking route. High rates of poverty and unemployment have lead to an increase in the number of people turning to sex work and injecting drug use. These factors, combined with high rates of internal/external migration, have contributed to the burgeoning HIV epidemic in the country, particularly among vulnerable groups. Despite a shortage of funds to deal with the growing epidemic, the Kyrgyz government, backed by a strong network of local non-governmental and community-based organisations, has been active and innovative in addressing HIV-related issues, including the active promotion of needle exchange programmes in communities and in prisons, and the launch of the first opiate substitution programmes in the region in 2002. However, the OST programme still runs as a pilot project. As of November 2012 the programme reaches only 950 people who use drugs - nearly 5% of estimated number of people who use drugs. Only 30% of people who use drugs remain in the OST programme due to regular police raids on distribution sites, poor medical infrastructure, lack of qualified doctors, nurses and social workers.