On World AIDS Day, U.S. Government recognizes the resilience and impact of the health care system and communities

ALMATY,  November 30. The United States joins Kazakhstan in observing World AIDS Day to show support for people living with and affected by HIV, and to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. The U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day 2020 is “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.” This theme reflects the U.S. government’s strong commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally as well as to strengthening the capacity and resilience of communities and health systems to address other health challenges. 

This year marks the 17th year of U.S. government engagement with Kazakhstan to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During this time the U.S President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has partnered with Kazakhstan to control and ultimately end the HIV epidemic. These investments  have strengthened the service delivery provided by the healthcare system and increased the role of community organizations in HIV prevention, care, and treatment. The result is a system that provides effective, resilient, and nimble service delivery inside of health facilities, with health care support continuing within the community. 

“Every health professional that PEPFAR trains, every laboratory that we strengthen, and every local organization that we support is capable not only of confronting HIV but also a myriad of other current and future health challenges,” – says Patrick Nadol, HIV/AIDS Central Asia Program Director at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, there are an estimated 33,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Kazakhstan. In Central Asia, the HIV epidemic disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, including commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs. 

At the beginning of January 2020, 83% of HIV-infected adults (aged 15+) knew their status; among those, 72% were on life-saving antiretroviral therapy; and among those on treatment, 78% were virally suppressed, meaning that the risk of infecting others was reduced. In 2020, the Government of Kazakhstan provided antiretroviral therapy to nearly19,211 PLHIV. Compared to 2018, the number of PLHIV on treatment increased by 42% from 13,573 to 19,211.

This year also marks the end of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 goal, replaced by the goal to reach 95-95-95 by 2030: to diagnose 95% of people living with HIV, provide antiretroviral therapy to 95% of those diagnosed, and suppress the virus in 95% of those on treatment. On this World AIDS Day, the U.S. Embassy renews its commitment to working with Kazakhstan toward achieving these ambitious goals and reaching epidemic control. 

Lessons learned through holistic HIV response has taught us that in any health threat and response it is important to share responsibility, empower and involve communities; eradicate stigma and discrimination, and take care of marginalized populations. In the context of COVID-19, Kazakhstan, in partnership with PEPFAR, has been able to leverage PEPFAR supported health systems and community partners to adapt, make available, and maintain services for people living with HIV.

PEPFAR is the U.S. government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which represents the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. In Central Asia, PEPFAR provides financial and technical assistance to both government and community organizations that are implementing programs to ensure all people living with HIV know their status and are accessing life-saving treatment. For more information, please visit www.pepfar.gov, and follow PEPFAR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 ###For media enquiries, please contact Bakytgul Zhurkabayeva at PEPFAR Coordination Office at +7 (727) 250 76 12; 8 701 720 58 11 email: zhurkabayevab@state.gov