Large-scale event in Central Asia: ECOM holds the first (Sub-) Regional Consultation on PrEP

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On November 21-22 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the 1st (Sub-) Regional Consultation on PrEP among MSM and trans people in Central Asia was held. The event was organized by ECOM — the Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexuality Diversity (ECOM) with the support of the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Alliance for Public Health (Ukraine), the Institute of Human Health (Kazakhstan), and Kyrgyz Indigo (Kyrgyzstan). The event brought together representatives of LGBT communities, states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan), health specialists, international organizations, and donors from Central Asian countries.

The consultation aimed to develop common approaches with the participation of various stakeholders to accelerate national and regional efforts to scale up the uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP) among MSM and trans people in Central Asia.


"While the HIV epidemic is steadily growing among gay men, other MSM and trans people in EECA, we know that PrEP can prevent transmission of the virus by 99%. This is why ECOM is focused on promoting this highly effective method. We were one of the co-organizers of the consultation on PrEP in Central Asia, which provided partners in the region with a platform to share knowledge and experiences. It is important that community organizations are involved in the planning and implementation of PrEP programs from the beginning. As the consultation showed, the countries of Central Asia have much to be proud of in this regard," says Vitaly Djuma, Executive Director of ECOM. 

During the two days of the consultation, 10 sessions were held and 27 speakers took the floor. Topics of discussion included:
  • “Current state of PrEP in Central Asia”
  • "PrEP from a community perspective"
  • “Role of international donors in the implementation of PrEP programs”
  • “Innovations in the field of PrEP and integration with other services”
  • “Communication when creating demand for PrEP”
  • “Trans community and PrEP in Central Asia”
  • “Community-led monitoring of PrEP services”
  • "Chemsex, sexual well-being and PrEP"
  • “Human rights and their violation as barriers to access to the implementation of PrEP in Central Asia”
  • “Next steps and actions in the region to scale up the use of PrEP”.


"Although PrEP is a proven and highly effective method of HIV prevention, its use varies across the WHO European Region. It is very important to us that access to PrEP is universal for everyone who needs it. Each country has its own specifics on how to implement PrEP and what methods are effective for working with key populations. And this consultation allows us to examine the experiences of different countries: what worked, what was effective, what led to good results, what did not work, and what methods still need to be tested. Therefore, the exchange of experiences is one of the key things that distinguishes this Consultation. It is also important that this event brought together representatives of communities, government organizations, donors, and international organizations. And already during discussion of each of the topics, all of these actors understood where efforts can be made and where they can lead to positive results. And this is also very important," notes Doctor Vyacheslav Grankov, Program Coordinator for HIV and STIs of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Office.


"It is important that this consultation is primarily about the community. I think this is very valuable, because in my opinion, the success of the implementation of the PrEP program in Kazakhstan is due to the fact that it was initiated by the community itself. And this once again confirms that when the community itself takes part in programs from beginning to end, they will be successful," says Sayrankul Kasymbekova, KSCDID, Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The event brought together more than 100 participants from all countries of Central Asia, and provided a platform for the active exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of PrEP.

"This event brought together experts, donors, activists, and community representatives in one space to discuss and build mutually complementary interventions regarding prevention activities for communities. It is very important to be heard and understood, because only together can we discuss problems, join forces and unite everyone who is interested in this," noted Rishat Azikhanov, member of ECOM’s Steering Committee.

As a result of the Consultation, a communiqué was issued with recommendations for countries on expanding PrEP programs in the region of Central Asia:

The event emphasized the importance of united efforts in the fight for the health and rights of LGBT people in Central Asia and served as a platform for developing strategies for the future.


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