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“Much of the world is accelerating progress in responding to HIV…There is still much to do. If we want a future free of AIDS we will need continued investment, commitment and innovation to reach the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths” – stated UN Secretary-General in his message on the World AIDS Day.
Uzbekistan joined the global community to celebrate achievements, speak up about challenges and demonstrate unity and joint efforts in front of the pandemic with a series of events. ‘Thank you’ from PLHIV community award ceremony, dedicated to December 1, which was organised by PLHIV NGOs and supported by the UNDP HIV Project, has been one of the brightest events, held in the country.
The celebration gathered the most dedicated and energetic activists of the combat against HIV from all regions of the country. These are health workers, outreach workers, international civil servants, people, living with HIV, who made invaluable contribution to improvement of treatment and support for people, affected by HIV, enhancement of efficiency of AIDS service organisations, support of new initiatives and improvements in the area.
For example, psychologist Gulnora Ataeva from Khorezm region was awarded for “…saving lives of many patients, helping them preserve families, providing relief from depression and stress, associated with HIV, helping patients create families, helping patients resolve conflicts with relatives, consulting parents of HIV-affected children, promoting healthy lifestyle while living with antiretroviral treatment…”
The director of the Republican AIDS Centre Dr. Nurmat Atabekov has been awarded for scaling up treatment, initiation of rapid adaption of WHO protocols on antiretroviral treatment in the country and active advocacy efforts, resulting to the Government of Uzbekistan committing 2 million USD towards procurement of lifesaving antiretroviral drugs.
Mr. Zakir Kadirov, Project Manager has been awarded for long-term support of PLHIV NGO ‘Ishonch va Hayot’; including support of the first grant, obtained by the NGO, conducting PLHIV needs assessment and creation of the first PLHIV self-support group in the country. “Courage, fortitude and exemplification of full-coloured lives despite their diagnosis” of PLHIV activists deserved special tribute of the event participants.
Anastasiya Yumakaeva, social worker of an NGO of PLHIV went a long way from depression, anger and deprivation to being one of the most compassionate outreach workers and a happy mother of a child, born healthy due to prevention of mother-to-child transmission services. “When I joined this project, I realised how wrong I was that my life was over with the diagnosis. People around me extended their sincere support and assistance, helped me realise how strong I can be.”
“Now, working with PLHIV, especially pregnant women, I further share all the support and help that I once received,” says Anastasiya. Combat against HIV is a challenging area, requiring hard work and significant efforts of the involved people. Such events enable to acknowledge their success, inspire participants of the combat and once more stress how important is what they do.
UNDP HIV Project is implemented in close collaboration with numerous national and international partners. Joint efforts in this area have already led to multiple achievements. Among these, representatives of NGOs of PLHIV have been selected to the highest international HIV projects oversight organ – Multisectoral expert council and now have voice in decision making.
Almost 8000 PLHIV are receiving antiretroviral treatment, and only during first 9 months of 2013 over 4000 PLHIV and their family members received care and support services. These successes have been possible with input of the HIV activists, awarded during the event. This a small, but important share of the multi-faceted efforts, applied to stop and reverse HIV epidemic in the country, empower PLHIV and make their voices heard. Fight against HIV continues with even more enthusiasm and inspiration.