Many people living with HIV and tuberculosis fight with feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and isolation. Yet, through the dedicated efforts of non-governmental organizations and their staff, community members are empowered to overcome life challenges and build a path forward.
The Public Foundation "Plus Centre," an important partner of UNDP since 2009, has played a central role in extending support and assistance to people affected by HIV and tuberculosis in Osh and the wider Osh oblast of Kyrgyzstan. Since 2020, UNDP, in collaboration with the "Plus Centre" UF, has spearheaded initiatives aimed at delivering social aid, facilitating the reintegration of people living with HIV into medical care systems, conducting rapid saliva testing drives, and documenting instances of community rights violations.
"We try to assist people with HIV and tuberculosis who seek our help. Recently, a woman approached us in dire need. After years of working in Russia, she was diagnosed with HIV and quickly deported. Finding herself without a home, she turned to our Foundation for support. We accommodated her in our social facility and accompanied her through the process of reclaiming her documents, securing a pension, and enrolling in hospitality at the Osh Oblast Center for Control of Hepatitis and HIV. Additionally, when she suffered a broken arm, our outreach workers facilitated her hospitalization. Who else could she have turned to here in Osh for such comprehensive assistance if not for non-governmental organizations?" remarks Ravshan Majitov, Director of the OF "Plus Center."
One of the key challenges confronting the organization is the widespread stigma and discrimination prevalent within the community. The social house related to the foundation, which accommodates people living with HIV, tuberculosis, and those grappling with substance abuse, faces constant relocation due to these prejudices.
"When our neighbours discover that we house individuals living with HIV or those battling addiction, conflicts invariably arise. Due to these tensions, we've had to relocate our social home numerous times. Unfortunately, many still harbour doubts about the existence of the virus," shares one of the Foundation's outreach workers. "Just recently, we grieved the loss of a client who, for years, rejected medical treatment as an HIV dissident. It was tragically too late when he sought our help."
Despite these formidable obstacles, the Foundation staff diligently document cases of community rights violations, engage with the public to raise awareness about the importance of preventive measures and provide support to key population groups.
Within the UNDP "Effective HIV and TB control" project 913 people accessed essential preventive services in 2023, while the social home provided shelter for 15 to 20 people each month.
The "Plus Center" Foundation extends a helping hand to people facing life problems, offering temporary residency in its social facility, distributing food kits, and providing the services of lawyers and psychologists. Most importantly, it endeavours to restore people's sense of self-worth, ensuring they feel sheltered and supported in their journey towards recovery.