New York - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund signed a US$8.7 million grant to scale up HIV prevention measures and treatment for people most at risk of contracting the virus in Afghanistan, including injecting drugs users and prisoners.
Though HIV infection rates across the general population in Afghanistan are low, the epidemic continues to spread among key populations at higher risk of HIV. For example, injecting drug use is a major driver of HIV infections in Afghanistan, a country that is also the world's leading producer of opium and heroin.
A combination of injecting practices involving the use of non-sterile equipment, high-risk sexual behaviour, punitive policies and stigma towards people who inject drugs are fuelling the epidemic. The most recently available drug use survey showed that eight per cent of the population aged 15-64 is dependent on drugs, with significant increases in the number of people who use opium and heroin.
UNDP, UNAIDS and ESCAP have jointlyed released a review of country prograess in addressing legal and policy barriers to universal access to HIV services in Asia and the Pacific. The review was jointly conducted to inform preparations of country delegations for the UN General-Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, 6-8 June 2016 in New York. It highlights significant examples of progress in removing legal and policy barriers to accessing HIV services since 2012. Data for this report is based on country responses from two regional surveys – conducted in January 2015 and February 2016 – from the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Cook Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. It also draws from a desk review of data reported from countries on these legal and policy reviews and consultations, and related developments in the legal and policy environment for HIV responses in Asia and the Pacific. The report greatly benefited from review and inputs during the drafting phase from government representatives, civil society organizations, UNAIDS and UNDP country offices, ESCAP, and other development partners.
Transgender rights received unprecedented recognition in Asia and across the world in 2015. However, a new Series published in The Lancet today reveals that public recognition has yet to translate into a concerted effort to support and improve the health and lives of transgender people.
The Series was launched at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's (WPATH) 24th Biennial Scientific Symposium in Amsterdam. It was compiled with input from members of the transgender community and provides an assessment of transgender health worldwide.
The global study points to major gaps in our understanding of transgender health. According to the authors, there is a failure to recognize gender diversity in public health efforts, however, it is noted there is enough information about this marginalized group to act now.
Purshottam Jat's world came crashing down around him in 1998 when he learned he was HIV positive.
The news came during a business trip to Goa. A trucker by profession, he used to drive across the country to supply marble from Rajasthan to southern parts of India.
Back home in Rajasthan, Purshottam consulted local doctors, who blamed him for his illness and offered no support and even less hope. "I was afraid to ask questions," Purshottam recalls. "Within two years my weight reduced to 33 kilogrammes."
His friends and relatives ostracized him. Predicting that he would die soon, they advised his wife and three children to stay away. Purshottam did not want to die, but could find little reason to fight.
HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria claim the lives of up to four million people every year. People living in low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by these epidemics, as fragile health systems struggle to deliver services. The situation is further compounded for those living in the midst of conflict, disasters, crises and political instability.
The 2015-2016 Annual Report on UNDP's partnership with the Global Fund highlights the achievements of this partnership, and its work to respond to HIV, TB and malaria in some of the world's most challenging contexts. The report includes an analysis of the current health landscape and demonstrates the impact of UNDP-managed Global Fund grants. It also provides an update on capacity development activities aimed at strengthening resilient health systems and provides an overview of the UNDP Global Fund Partnership Team's support to UNDP Country Offices.