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Better standards of non-medical care for HIV-positive youth in Uzbekistan
TASHKENT, 15 September 2014 - The result of a process that began with a study tour to the United Kingdom in January and February 2014, on Friday the 5th of September representatives of UNICEF's national partners, including the Republican AIDS Centre of Ministry of Health, have agreed to draft a new protocol on standards of care for infants, children and young people with HIV in Uzbekistan.
It is expected that the new standards, which will be based on those used by the UK Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), will focus not only on maintaining the physical health of young people living with HIV, but also on ensuring that these individuals nationwide receive the psychosocial support they require.
“Uzbekistan has been steadily improving its approach to providing medical care and assistance to children and adolescents, but the psychosocial care these vulnerable youth require isn’t available nationwide," said Kamila Fatikhova, UNICEF consultant and social psychologist.
“Self-support groups for adolescents living with HIV have been established with UNICEF’s assistance, but they need to be made more broadly accessible, and be included in official treatments. The new standards of care will make psychological care a standard part of assistance.”
During the meeting it was agreed that the adapted protocol, a draft of which will be delivered in early October, will contain a number of key change from those currently-used protocols. First and foremost, the new protocols will establish a requirement for multi-disciplinary teams of specialists who work with young people living with HIV, similar to those observed during the UK study tour conducted earlier this year.
It is expected that these teams will include psychologists, infectious diseases specialists, paediatricians, nurses and social workers, individual roles that were previously all filled by a single doctor. The range of staff will make sure that all needs faced by young people living with HIV are met by dedicated professionals.
The new protocols are also expected to address HIV disclosure practices for young adolescents, and to help transition adolescents living with HIV services to adult care services. Earlier disclosure and commencement of anti-retroviral therapy will help to prevent HIV’s advancement to AIDS, while a more gradual transfer from adolescent to adult care will ensure treatment can continue without interruption.
The meeting, held on the 5th of September, was attended by representatives of the Working Group for adapting standards of care for infants, children and young people with HIV in Uzbekistan from the Republican AIDS Centre, the Scientific Research Institution of Virology, the Tashkent AIDS Centre, UNAIDS and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
UNICEF has worked extensively in Uzbekistan to ensure higher standards of care for children and adolescents living with HIV, in particular by promoting early disclosure, improving psychological care for young patients, and supporting dialogue on a legislative level. To learn more, visit the HIV programme page.