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Kyrgyz mothers against disclosure of the status of HIV-infected children

November 03, 2017

According to official data, the number of HIV-infected people in Kyrgyzstan is increasing by 10% per year

There are about 600 children among the 7,500 PLWH, including children infected in public health facilities in 2007-2008. Today they are 12-13 years old. Doctors believe it is time to disclose their status, but the mothers strongly oppose it for fear of stigma and discrimination.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 67 new cases of HIV infection registered in Osh. Thus, the number of HIV-positive patients in Osh is 1,037, and overall more than 1 300 cases are registered in the region.

The national count is about 7,500 cases, and this is a drastic figure. Moreover, about 1,500 people live without being aware of their HIV status. We must detect them”, said Elmira Narmatova, Chief Doctor of the Osh Oblast AIDS Center.

About 400 of the 600 HIV-positive children live in the Osh region, 372 of them were infected with HIV in public health facilities.

All infected children receive the necessary treatment. They must take certain medicines every day without an interruption, interrupting the treatment is not allowed. Stringent routine and endless drug taking often cause psychological problems.

“Children are wondering why they should take so many medications every day. Many of them do not take medicines in time, exacerbating their illness. We provide them with psychological help. We provide the families with the advice and support, so that the mother would be ready to disclose their child’s status by the age of 12”, says psychologist Muhammadiyor Akhmadjanov.

Children aged 12 must disclose their status because they reach puberty. However, no one risks doing it. Not obly children themselves, but their parents must be prepared for such a psychologically difficult decision. In particular, the mother – because in 40% of these families, children grow up without fathers. They abandoned their families when they learned about the disease of children. Mothers ask to delay the disclosure of the children’s status.

“Mothers are afraid of public condemnation. Therefore, they are not ready to do so. This is a big problem. Children grow up. They can have sexual relations, which opens the way for HIV transmission. Therefore, the public, health staff and relatives should help such families to overcome this difficult period for them”, says Mukhaddas Khakimova, a representative of the “Crane’s Cry” public association.

According to the chief doctor of the regional center “AIDS” Narmatova, they have to face various psychological moments, when people even refuse treatment, hoping for the will of fate.

“One of the die-hard myths that is steadily spreading is that the doctors give patients medications for another purpose, while pretending that this is the HIV treatment. There are cases of refusal to take medicines for religious reasons. As a result, the virus proliferates, deteriorating the person’s immune response”, said psychologist Akhmadjanov.

Let’s remind, that all necessary ARV medicines are available free of charge under the Ministry of Health program supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

From 2018, international donor organizations expected to stop providing financial assistance to Kyrgyzstan in this area. However, after consultations, it was decided to extend such support until 2020. It is planned to allocate $ 3.7 million annually for treatment and preventive measures. Previously, up to 9 million dollars were allocated for these purposes each year. From 2021, Kyrgyzstan must independently resolve these issues. Therefore, a relevant National Program is being drafted.

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