Bringing the Voice of Migrants into Central Asia HIV Discussions

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Astana - Some 1.5 million people live with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is the only region in the world where the HIV epidemic continues to grow, with a 57 per cent increase in new infections annually.

The HIV epidemic in the region is concentrated among the key affected populations – mainly people who inject drugs – where there is also low coverage of harm reduction and other HIV programmes. At the same time, the region contains a high number of mobile people - more than 10 million - looking for work in neighbouring countries.

This link between HIV and migration and the possible response to HIV among migrant populations was highlighted this week at a workshop conducted by UNFPA and UNAIDS in the Kazakh capital Astana. It focused on migrants and their increased vulnerability to contracting HIV and on the limited access to health services to detect and treat the disease.

Key international experts updated participants on policies, commitments and international standards of HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, while Government experts and their civil society counterparts discussed their country specific programmes and challenges in improving access of migrants to HIV services. 

IOM’s Dr Jaime Calderon addressed an audience of over 80 health policy makers, NGOs and health workers stressing the need to ensure migrants' rights to health by integrating it into national plans, policies and strategies and strengthening cross-border collaboration.

“We want to really congratulate the organizers for bringing in civil society because they represent the key populations we are trying to reach, noted Dr Calderon. "And it’s been accepted by all that migrants are part of those key populations, through the Sustainable Development Goals.”

IOM is commited to partnering with governments to address HIV/AIDS risks and vulnerabilities at all phases of the migration process, including at pre-departure, transit, destination and return or resettlement. The discussion addressed ways to ensure improving HIV and regional commitments on HIV for migrants especially those who are most vulnerable. 

For more information please contact Dr Jaime Calderon on +436605812153. Email