Delegates from Central Asian countries, United Nations agencies and aid groups recently met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to discuss methods of preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission and supporting pediatric HIV/AIDS care in the region, Kazakhstan's Kazinform reports. According to Kazinform, HIV/AIDS in Central Asia is on the rise, partly because of cases of MTCT in hospitals, primarily in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
During the conference -- organized by UNICEF and hosted by Uzbekistan's Minister of Health Firuz Nazirov -- delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen their efforts to prevent MTCT and pediatric HIV/AIDS, as well as to highlight improvements in access to treatment, care and support for children living with the disease. The delegates also examined the need to strengthen partnerships across borders to achieve these goals, Kazinform reports. In addition, conference delegates acknowledged that challenges still remain, including issues regarding the expansion of programs from the pilot state to nationwide initiatives, as well as the effective distribution of antiretroviral drugs for children and pregnant women.
Jimmy Kolker, head of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS office, said, "Europe and Central Asia could be the first regions to eliminate" MTCT. He added, "But to achieve this, we need to reach the most at-risk women with" MTCT prevention methods and "other services, and to reinforce health care systems as a base to support children with HIV/AIDS and their families." Anna Tereshkina, head of a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Ferghana region of Uzbekistan, said, "It is difficult to overestimate the importance of" the conference. "Through discussing the issues related to HIV-positive people, we show them that we value their fates and lives," she added (Kazinform, 7/17).
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