Social Support for Families Affected by HIV in the Osh Region, Kyrgyzstan
United Nations Children's Fund
AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW)
As of 1 January 2008, there were 1 479 individuals officially registered as living with HIV in Kyrgyzstan. Most experts put the real figure at closer to 6 000. The HIV epidemic in Kyrgyzstan is largely concentrated among injecting drug users; southern Kyrgyzstan, particularly Osh, has been especially hard hit by the epidemic, although new cases have been registered in nearly every region of the country. Despite a general shortage of funds, the Kyrgyz government—backed by a strong network of non-governmental and community-based organisations—has taken an active and innovative role in addressing the epidemic.
In an effort to meet the needs of those families and children already living with HIV in the Osh region, AFEW initiated the Social Support to Families Affected by HIV in the Osh Region, Kyrgyzstan. The overall aim of the project is to ensure that HIV-positive children and their family members have improved access to HIV prevention, treatment, and support services through the set-up of an integrated system of care.
Primarily, AFEW’s activities in the region are focused on making contact with families living with HIV, assisting them in accessing medical, social and psychological services, as well as ensuring that families who need it receive social support related to their HIV status. AFEW also developed a new non-governmental organisation composed of a peer group of parents to HIV-positive children based in Osh.
Specifically, AFEW carried out the following activities as a part of this project:
- Organised a series of meetings with the parents of HIV-positive children to discuss their needs and to organise an NGO to specifically advocate for them and provide mutual support to additional families in future;
- Set up and equipped a community-based service centre (that is, a ‘social bureau’) in the Osh Oblast to provide integrated medical, social and psychological services to HIV-positive children and their families;
- Provided technical support and training on NGO management, project planning and fundraising to a newly created organisation to advocate for families living with HIV and ensure the long-term sustainability of activities.
As a result of these activities, a ‘social bureau’ is now fully operational and the community is better equipped to deal with the needs of HIV-positive children and their families by, for example, providing consultations by telephone. In addition, a peer support group is permanently situated in the community. Finally, a network of service providers was established so that all of the services necessary for the target group are available.