ASTANA – Last year, more than 2,800 new HIV cases were detected in Kazakhstan, though the prevalence of HIV in the country remains low, said Vice Minister of Healthcare of Kazakhstan Lyazat Aktayeva at a recent technical seminar on HIV and migration in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
“Over the past year, there have been about 3 million HIV tests among groups in the country of the population that are both voluntary and mandatory testing. A total 14 percent of the population was tested last year, and more than 2,800 new HIV cases were detected. Also last year more than 60,000 foreigners were examined, and 0.2 percent are positive. If you look at socially vulnerable groups among foreigners, the frequency is 9 percent,” said Aktayeva, adding that the number of HIV cases in Kazakhstan grows about 10 percent annually.
She also said HIV prevention programmes are in place in Kazakhstan.
“Thirty-nine friendly clinics and 144 syringe outlets operate in the regions financed from local budgets. Anonymous counselling is provided. And antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected people is provided at the expense of the national budget,” she added.
Today, 29,980 people are registered in the Kazakh regional and city centres of AIDS and in dispensary records.
Every year in Kazakhstan, about 150-200 HIV-positive foreigners are identified, said General Director of Centre for AIDS Prevention and Control Bauyrzhan Baiserkin at the same event.
“To date, in the process of identifying new HIV cases, we have about six percent of the contribution of foreign citizens to the statistics of the spread of HIV infection in Kazakhstan. This figure determines that HIV transmission can spread through migration processes. This year we started the project with the support of the Global Fund. About 150-200 people are diagnosed annually in Kazakhstan among the migrants. This year, 150 people are to be taken on treatment and laboratory support, and new strategies will be developed for working with this category of the population. This issue is very relevant for Kazakhstan,” said Baiserkin.
He also noted that these are general trends that are typical for the entire post-Soviet space. The issues of globalisation concern not only integration and interaction in the field of trade and economic relations, but also migration issues. In this part, migration processes, which are increasing in the global world, are also related to the spread of HIV infection, which acquires new features.
“Unfortunately, in the former Soviet Union countries there is no single document regulating the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV-infected people; their legal status and the possibility of obtaining minimum medical services are undetermined… In this connection, I would like to note that we are testing about 61,000 migrants who enter Kazakhstan, which is a very substantial load for the budget, healthcare expenses, and in order for these expenses to be effective, we need to determine in technical terms how these people will receive treatment, their registration in the dispensary records, and how they will live on the territory of the stay,” said Baiserkin.