Friendly Policemen for HIV Prevention Programmes
Donor: Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan
Implemented by: AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW)
Partner: Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan
Project duration: January – December 2010; 1 September 2011 - 31 August 2012*
*The donor is considering the application for 2013
Kyrgyzstan’s locale places it on a major drug trafficking route. High rates of poverty and unemployment have led 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 key populations (sex workers, injecting drug users, prisoners). 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.
Police officers are among the professionals who most come into contact with key populations and it is essential that they are educated about the need to support HIV prevention, treatment, care and support when working with vulnerable groups or detaining them.
It is also vital that police officers do not undertake any action that could obstruct HIV prevention programmes on sites where harm reduction and prevention work is carried out (such as needle exchanges). In order to raise the standard of professional conduct towards people living with HIV or at risk of HIV, AFEW launched the project ‘Friendly Policemen for HIV Prevention Programmes’ in January 2010 with financial support from the Soros Foundation- Kyrgyzstan.
Under this project, AFEW in close cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan is developing work procedures and mechanisms to ensure that new guidelines for police officers on HIV and AIDS prevention among key populations are implemented. It follows on from a 2008 initiative where AFEW provided technical support to a national team of experts engaged in drawing up these guidelines for police officers in Kyrgyzstan, which were approved by the MIA.
These procedures are designed to improve the knowledge of issues related to HIV prevention that can occur in the day-to-day work of the law enforcement services. Importantly, the procedures forbid police officers from undertaking any action that could obstruct HIV prevention programmes on sites where harm reduction and prevention work is carried out. Police officers are also obliged to inform key populations about programmes that provide such services as: needle exchange points, rehabilitation clinics where substitution therapy is carried out, social bureaus and support groups that distribute public information.