As Kazakhstan continues to develop economically, it also continues to develop its civil society sector, particularly, organizations focused on improving the lives of those living with HIV. HIV is a worldwide pandemic, and it will take the effort of every country’s government, working with civil society and health-care institutions, to prevent its spread and to assist those infected.
USAID sponsored a study program in July and August 2013 to introduce participants from Kazakhstan to U.S. best practices in providing services to people living with HIV. The group met with over 15 organizations in the United States that shared innovative approaches for reducing social stigma and discrimination.
Gulsum Kikbayeva works for the Almaty Regional AIDS Center, where she leads the HIV Infection Surveillance Department. The center is one of many such centers in Kazakhstan where, as of January 1, 2013, the cumulative number of HIV-infected people was nearly 20,000, with a national prevalence of 86.8 per 100,000 population. Kikbayeva's responsibilities include epidemiological monitoring, outreach activities to at-risk groups, and research and analysis.
When Kikbayeva heard about the U.S. study opportunity, she was excited to learn more about HIV palliative care, services and treatment for people living with HIV in rural areas; services and treatment for children living with HIV; social support; attracting positive media coverage to address stigma and discrimination; and medical care in the United States in general.
Ten participants spent three weeks in Chicago living with local families and visiting a range of HIV organizations and health-care services, including the AIDS Foundation and Chicago House.
Upon returning from the program, Kikbayeva made a presentation for 30 of her colleagues at the AIDS Center, providing information on the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States; how the disease spreads and is controlled in Illinois; HIV and pregnancy; and laws that protect people living with HIV.
“My colleagues were interested to hear about our meeting with Greg Harris, member of the Illinois House of Representatives, and his work on behalf of people living with HIV,“ said Kikbayeva.
She and other participants are now preparing initiatives inspired by their visit such as the formation of a coalition that will work to reduce stigma and discrimination.
Last updated: March 30, 2015