The support Idris is providing is vital to helping tackle stigma and discrimination in Afghanistan.
“With greater awareness about HIV, coupled with strong public health services, the hope is that in the near future many more people can enjoy healthy and productive lives, just like Idris,” said Mr. Jocelyn Mason, UNDP Country Director.
About 900 people are reported to be living with HIV in Afghanistan and regularly receiving treatment. However, UNAIDS estimates that as many as 7850 people are living with HIV in the country, with most unaware of their health status.
Key populations, such as those who use and inject drugs are among those at the highest risk of exposure to HIV but remain largely marginalized and out of reach of health and social services. People who inject drugs are around 28 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population.
"In Afghanistan, HIV prevalence among injecting drug users has been as high as 4.4%,” said Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, WHO Representative Afghanistan.
“We have to carry out prevention activities specifically targeting this key population to prevent Afghanistan experiencing a concentrated HIV epidemic among injecting drug users,” he continued.
Currently, UNDP and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria partner with the Ministry of Health to provide antiretroviral services in five centres in Afghanistan. The centres provide antiretroviral treatment to all people living with HIV who are registered, in addition to providing regular checkups, adherence counselling and treatment support.
Furthermore, over 25,000 people from key populations, including people who inject drugs, have been reached with HIV prevention services and more than 20,000 people have been tested for HIV and know their HIV status. Opioid substitution therapy is also provided for people who inject drugs.
“The Afghanistan National Programme for Control of AIDS/HIV, STI & Hepatitis (ANPASH) with the support of partners have been working to scale up testing and treatment around the country, and WHO will continue to provide technical support to the ANPASH to increase access to testing and treatment for HIV, strengthening HIV/TB collaborative activities and Hepatitis C treatment " said Dr Peeperkorn.