Central Asia: Women with HIV suffer from high level of violence, survey says

BISHKEK (TCA) — Representatives of civil society and development organizations from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan gathered on November 4 in Bishkek to discuss the results of a survey on gender-based violence and barriers for support in regards to women living with HIV. The study, conducted by the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA), with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNFPA, showed a high level of violence against the respondents, UNDP in the Kyrgyz Republic reported.

“It’s clear that this work is particularly important because the rate of HIV in the world is decreasing gradually, but the epidemic continues to grow in our region. Around 320 women are diagnosed with HIV annually in Kyrgyzstan,” said Jenty Kirsch-Wood, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan, who opened the conference.

“We cannot end the HIV epidemic if we do not answer the problems linked to gender violence,” added Svetlana Moroz from the EWNA. The organization conducted a survey among 464 women living with HIV from the Eastern Europe and Central Asia between November and December 2018. Results showed a high rate of psychological, financial, physical and sexual violence against these women, who face many problems getting aid. The survey showed that:

– 42.2% of respondents do not have a constant employment,
– 51.2% of respondents live in poverty,
– 71% of respondents suffered from psychological violence,
– 63% of respondents suffered from financial violence,
– 52% of respondents suffered from physical violence,
– 25% of respondents suffered from sexual violence,
– 32% of respondents said physical violence was due to their HIV+ status,
– 30% of women who did not reach out for help refused to because of their HIV+ status.

Studies have shown that violence increases risks of getting infected with HIV, and inversely, women with HIV suffer from increased discrimination and violence. The working group recommended strengthening efforts to change mentalities, protect women and lift barriers to access protection and support for women living with HIV.

“We look forward to supporting civil society and governments in further protecting the rights of women living with HIV who have experienced violence, and in addressing the HIV epidemic,” said Jenty Kirsch-Wood, confirming the UNDP’s commitment to fight against HIV and gender-based violence. Under the Global Fund grand, the UNDP provides free quality treatment for patients with HIV and prevention for key populations in Kyrgyzstan.


Times of Central Asia