The Way Home

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Mir - a peer navigator with SPIN Plus

In 1995, Mir received a driver’s license which was to fulfill his dream of becoming a truck driver in his hometown - Dushanbe. A capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe boasts majestic trees, distinctive architecture, and the largest library in Central Asia. Dushanbe is also home to  the second tallest flagpole in the world!

To help him start, Mir’s brother gave him a truck to transport large loads, and in return, Mir was helping with agriculture work, transporting vegetables and construction materials.

Truck drivers spend long days and nights on the road, including while waiting for goods to clear customs, or for the snowy Central Asian winters to permit movement. In 1997, during one of his long trips, Mir tried drugs for the first time. For the next 10 years, Mir was using drugs regularly. His habit soon led to his life looking much different from how he had envisioned it.   

“During that period, I lost everything – my family, my job, my peace of mind...”, Mir recalls.

To earn a living, Mir periodically traveled to Russia where he worked as a migrant. Not long after, he ended up in a pre-trial detention center, and then was sentenced to prison. While he was serving his sentence, in 2007, he learned that he had HIV. Refusing HIV treatment, he continued injecting drugs while in prison. 

After completing his sentence in 2015, Mir returned home to Dushanbe.

“Several years later, I was admitted to a hospital with liver cirrhosis. People from SPIN Plus, a local organization supported by USAID’s Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control project, began to visit me at the hospital. Our mutual friends told them about my situation. One day, the doctors asked the guys to take me home as I was dying.”

SPIN Plus supported Mir in getting HIV and hepatitis C treatment, which he started in 2020. Despite the side effects, a fairly common occurrence for those on HIV therapy, Mir continued the treatment daily and his HIV viral load dropped to undetectable levels -- meaning, he would not transmit HIV to his sexual partners.

“When I recovered, I met Alisher,  the SPIN Plus project coordinator. He offered me a job – to help people who were in the same difficult situation as I was.”

Now Mir is a peer navigator with SPIN Plus. He helps people living with HIV commence and continue the treatment. Mir supports his clients in many ways, from helping them get tested to encover HIV diagnosis, to accepting their HIV status, to receiving medical care that might lead them to  suppressed viral loads. Mir’s assistance also includes HIV prevention, so that people who are HIV negative can protect themselves. 

“I try to study each client and motivate people to take care of their health and their loved ones. My work motivates me as I help people who find themselves in the same situation as I once was. It is a great success for me that I can try to help every person survive HIV; it is a great success to contribute to stopping the HIV epidemic in Tajikistan.”

Last updated: November 17, 2021

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