Metal doors to protect clients

According to official data, the Sverdlovsk Region is among the leaders in the number of HIV-positive people in Russia. Today, more than 102,000 people diagnosed with HIV infection are registered in the Sverdlovsk Region.

The Social Project “To Live”, a non-profit organisation, is the only organisation in Ekaterinburg whose team has been working on HIV/STI prevention, including in LGBT/MSM cruising spots, for over 10 years.
The organization serves the needs of key populations from 2018. From that moment it has encountered aggression from citizens who tried to enter the centre with a baseball bat. The need to strengthen the centre’s security was the basis of the organisation’s application to the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in Eastern  Europe and Central Asia.

Ivan Sadikhov, project leader:

We wanted to keep an important service in Ekaterinburg that allows people vulnerable to HIV to receive services in a friendly and comfortable environment. Thanks to ESF, we solved the issues of client safety during visits to our centre. We installed metal doors and an entrance control system, and replaced the entrance area with a warmer one. Thanks to this, being in the centre is now much more comfortable and, most importantly, safe!”

For reference

Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF), led by AFEW International and Aidsfonds since 2018, strived for a comprehensive response to emergencies threatening HIV service provision for key populations in the EECA region and supported activities ranging from advocacy and prevention to treatment and care in terms of HIV and co-infections. Since its start, ESF has received about 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistanof which over 230 were funded. For many organisations this support mechanism helped to overcome funding gaps and ensure continuity in emergency situations, especially in the countries where space for civil society initiatives continues to shrink due to local legislation changes. In the past year, many of the applications received and approved by the Fund committee were closely related to the needs emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Successes and great contributions of the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations

On November 18, the final virtual meeting of the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF) Advisory Board was held. During the meeting, the ESF team presented the main outcomes of the fund’s work, discussed its impact on civil society organizations representing key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and shared a strategy for the future.

Both current and former members of the Advisory Board were invited to attend the meeting to celebrate together the successes and great contributions that the Fund has made to the well-being of the region.

For reference

Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF), led by AFEW International and Aidsfonds since 2018, strived for a comprehensive response to emergencies threatening HIV service provision for key populations in the EECA region and supported activities ranging from advocacy and prevention to treatment and care in terms of HIV and co-infections.

After 3 years of fruitful work, in July 2021 ESF was closed.

Since its start, ESF has received about 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, of which over 230 were funded. For many organisations this support mechanism helped to overcome funding gaps and ensure continuity in emergency situations, especially in the countries where space for civil society initiatives continues to shrink due to local legislation changes. In the past year, many of the applications received and approved by the Fund committee were closely related to the needs emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations for medical care for transgender people

Transgender people are not identified as a separate key population at the level of the Russian Ministry of Health in relation to HIV prevention and treatment. Clinical guidelines for transgender people, including for the management of transgender patients with HIV, also don’t exist.

The organisation Transgender People for Access to Healthcare decided to change this situation and to write clinical and methodological guidelines for medical care for transgender people (including a section on HIV prevention and treatment). In 2021, the organization applied to the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a request for funding for this project. A professional team of friendly clinicians, including HIV specialists, was established. They created a separate component of transgender-specific HIV prevention and treatment guidelines.

Author – Yulija Lisniak

Egor Burtsev, project manager:

“We are very pleased that, with the help of the Emergency Support Fund, for the first time in Russia we have compiled clinical and methodological recommendations with an HIV component for transgender people.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, we have not yet managed to bring the recommendations to the level of the Ministry of Health, but we managed to create them before the start of the Cascade of Services programme in Russia. In this way, the recommendations will become the backbone for many trans-initiatives to implement Cascade of Services projects not only in Russia, but also in other countries in the region. We have already received several requests from organisations in post-Soviet countries to use our Recommendations in their HIV medical-advocacy work.

Our first priority now is to expand the Guidelines to trans organisations, AIDS Centres and trans health initiatives. The next step will be to train doctors to work with the trans community on HIV and other diseases. In the future, we are going to promote the issue of trans people’s access to health services in the field of HIV and other NGOs, doing educational projects on trans health, HIV and reproductive health for doctors and psychologists. We also plan to organise conferences for doctors and patients, interacting with HIV service organisations and NGOs and local health authorities and trans organisations and initiatives in Russia and the post-Soviet space”.

You can download the guidelines HERE (in russian). 

For reference

Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF), led by AFEW International and Aidsfonds since 2018, strives for a comprehensive response to emergencies threatening HIV service provision for key populations in the EECA region and supports activities ranging from advocacy and prevention to treatment and care in terms of HIV and co-infections.

The Emergency Support Fund aims to:

  • Decrease the annual number of new HIV infections in the EECA region;
  • Ensure access to treatment for all people living with HIV in the EECA region;
  • Offer better and more effective funding for the response to the HIV epidemics in EECA countries.

Since its start in 2018, ESF has received over 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, of which over 230 were funded.

 

Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region is closing!

Dear colleagues and partners!

After 3 years of fruitful work Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF) is closing.

Since its start in 2018, ESF has received about 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, of which over 230 were funded. For many organisations this support mechanism helped to overcome funding gaps and ensure continuity in the emergency situations, especially in the countries where space for civil society initiatives continues to shrink due to local legislation changes. In the past year many of the applications received and approved by the Fund committee were closely related to the needs emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

20 July 2021 was the last day for accepting applications, and we got a record amount of them from different countries of the region.

Our work is finished, but it doesn’t mean that the needs of people are also over. AFEW International with partners will continue working for all people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia who face barriers in access to health, justice, and social participation.

With ESF we helped dozens of people

“We applied to the Emergency Support Fund* when we ran out of HIV and other viruses prevention materials that help to stop the spread of infections among the key populations, including people who use drugs” – Yulia Lomachenko, Invisible People Project Director from Naberezhnye Chelny, says. “We used the Fund’s grant to restore the reserve of instruments, continue preventive work among the key population groups in our city and help dozens of people.”

Peer to Peer

Our main purpose for this project was to preserve health of our clients and to safeguard them from getting HIV. We conducted our work in an easy access center “A STEP FORWARD”, as well as during outreach trips to meet key populations. We provided services that were adapted according to the needs of our clients and that were in high demand. Peer-to-peer approach has become one of our discoveries. Thanks to this approach, we were able to achieve high results and prove effectiveness of our activities for the key populations.

There have always been difficulties

We’ve always faced certain difficulties during many years of our work. Mainly, the deficit of resources and finances allocated for the prevention of diseases among key population groups. We also face difficulties on the part of our clients. The majority of our clients are HIV-positive people and people from the key population groups (people who use drugs, ex-convicts, sex workers), who have a whole batch of problems related to everyday routines, medical care, legal and psychological issues. Because of it, prevention is not their priority, therefore, it becomes a difficulty for us.

We searched for “invisible people”

Within the framework of the Emergency Support Fund project outreach workers redirected representatives of the key populations to the social workers in our organisation, involved in the social support programme. Clients of the social support programme received individual step-by-step assistance in solving complex problems, for example, food supply, re-issuance of documents, access to HIV treatment, finding a job, etc. During the first meeting, our social worker created a plan of solving the client’s problems. Having covered primary needs, we got a chance to discuss the questions of health support, prevention, changing risk behaviours in relation to HIV and TB. We wanted to show the “invisible people” to the society and the state, that they exist, that they are part of our community and that they have equal rights just like any other citizen of our city and republic. These people just found themselves in difficult life circumstances and at this moment they need more support and help.

Working with double effort during Covid

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to work with double effort, because the representatives of our target groups found themselves in an extremely vulnerable position in relation to the society in general. Due to the pandemic, we had to completely revise all the directions of our work. For example, we set up a hot call line to give people all the necessary information about the work and services of the medical organisations, to consult about the prevention of socially significant diseases, and to invite a social worker to your home.

Anna’s Story

A girl named Anna once came to us. Some time ago she was released from prison. When she returned to her hometown, she faced some challenges. She had no place to stay and sleep, she was starving, didn’t wash for several weeks, she was using drugs and felt very desperate. After listening to Anna and understanding her primary needs, our social worker started to act. Together with Anna they created a plan describing in detail what necessary actions she had to take in order to solve her many problems. The social worker also organised private fundraising for her, and as a result we were able to rent a hostel room for her. Anna articulated her desire to stop using drugs, restore herself, find a job, rent an apartment and be happy. After we covered her primary needs, we accompanied Anna to the AIDS Center, provided assistance with temporal registration and received ARVT medicines for her. The next step was to help her enter a rehab center. As of today, Anna completed a full course of rehabilitation, found a job, was able to rent a room and resumed communication with her child. Anna’s example is one of 21 success cases that we were able to accomplish under the Invisible People project.

A look into the future

The Emergency Support Fund has helped our organisation during a very difficult time for us, and this work produced certain results and nurtured faith in a better future. We are very grateful to the Fund, and we will certainly look for opportunities to continue our activities in the future, because people, who need our help, didn’t disappear.

For reference

Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region (ESF), led by AFEW International and Aidsfonds since 2018, strives for a comprehensive response to emergencies threatening HIV service provision for key populations in the EECA region and supports activities ranging from advocacy and prevention to treatment and care in terms of HIV and co-infections.

The Emergency Support Fund aims to:

  • Decrease the annual number of new HIV infections in the EECA region;
  • Ensure access to treatment for all people living with HIV in the EECA region;
  • Offer better and more effective funding for the response to the HIV epidemics in EECA countries.

Since its start in 2018, ESF has received over 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, of which over 230 were funded

 

2021 is the final year of ESF operations. The Fund is no longer accepting applications.

We are looking for a researcher!

Now Hiring Newspaper classified advertisement concept illustration.

Aidsfonds and AFEW International are looking for a researcher to assess the impact of the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Since 2018 Aidsfonds and AFEW International respond to the fast-growing HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), through the Emergency Support Fund (ESF) for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Small grants ranging from € 3.000 to € 10.000 to community based organisations aim to ensure access to HIV prevention, treatment and/or services for key populations, or projects protecting the human rights of key populations in 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine or Uzbekistan. Since its start the ESF has received about 600 applications of which over 230 received a grant.

To learn if and in what ways the ESF is a successful instrument in reaching key populations in the EECA region and what could be improved about the ESF, we are looking for a researcher that can assess what the local impact of the ESF was and in which lessons can be learned (i.e. which groups were not reached, which needs were not met, etc.).

This could be studied by interviews with grantees, Advisory Board members, rejected applicants and members of local communities. This information is crucial in learning how the ESF as a funding mechanism can be improved. Next to this Impact Assessment we will be carrying out an analysis of the data of the ESF.

Requirements

We are looking for a hands-on, fast working consultant with proven experience in impact assessment.
The consultant should be familiar with working with key populations (including LGBTQI people, sex workers, people who use drugs and people living with HIV).

• Excellent report writing skills in English and Russian.
• An advanced university degree in Social Sciences, International Public Health, Policy analysis or related field, or similar experiences;
• Proven experience in doing research in the EECA region and among communities affected by HIV;
• Available between mid-July and September 2021.

More details

The final deadline to apply for small emergency support grants is July 20, 2021

The Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ESF) managed by Aidsfonds and AFEW International is currently providing small grants up to € 8.000 to community-based organisations with the aim to ensure access to HIV prevention, treatment and/or services for key populations, or projects protecting the human rights of key populations.

Since its start in 2018, ESF has received about 600 applications from 10 countries in EECA: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, of which over 230 were funded. For many organisations this support mechanism helped to overcome funding gaps and ensure continuity in the emergency situations, especially in the countries where space for civil society initiatives continues to shrink due to local legislation changes. In the past year many of the applications received and approved by the Fund committee were closely related to the needs emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 is the final year of ESF operations. Based on the amount of remaining funding, as well as the reporting timeline, the ESF Operational Committee has agreed that applications will be received and judged on the rolling basis up until July 20, 2021, or until the funds are exhausted.

Please note: The activities funded with an ESF grant should finish no later than October 1, 2021.

Find more information and apply: Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations – AFEW International

 

EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUND’S SUCCESS IN HELPING WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV AND THEIR CHILDREN IN NIZHNY NOVGOROD REGION WILL BE SCALED-UP

The project “Provision of prompt assistance to women living with HIV and their children in Nizhny Novgorod region”, supported by the Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in the EECA region in 2020, was continued in 2021 with the financial support of the Presidential Grants Fund of the Russian Federation.

Egor Sekretov, manager of the STEP Charity Foundation, which implements the project together with the partner NGO “Right to Life”, shared with us the problems that they managed to solve with the help of the Emergency Support Fund, their main successes, as well as results that had been unplanned, but very important.

Why did you decide to apply to the Emergency Support Fund?

STEP Charity Foundation has been actively working with all key populations for over 5 years. Due to the aggravated epidemiological situation in the Nizhny Novgorod region because of the COVID-19 world pandemic, starting with March 2020 we began to receive calls for help from our clients (women living with HIV) to buy formula milk and essential things.

This caused us a well-founded fear of the possibility of increased cases of vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child in the Nizhny Novgorod region. According to the research that later confirmed our concerns, people living with HIV are among the most vulnerable KPs during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

We started to look for funding – this should have been a grant or subsidies, which, firstly, should have been prompt (quick actions had to be taken at once), secondly, big enough to alleviate financial burden for women living with HIV and raising babies aged 0 to 1 year old.

We follow inspiringly the work of AFEW International in the EECA region, as well as  collaborate with the AIDS Foundation East-West Russian office in our project activities in the region. The decision to write to the Emergency Fund came immediately, since the very format of providing assistance, submitting an application and all communications are as comfortable as possible for non-profit organizations and initiative groups.

What made the situation so urgent?

According to the information newsletter of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional AIDS Center, 156 children were born to women living with HIV in the Nizhny Novgorod region in the first half of 2020 alone. The total share of women living with HIV in the Nizhny Novgorod region is 35.2% of the total number of registered people (about 10,000 people).

One of the barriers women living with HIV faced was reduction of income due to the pandemic, including loss of jobs without any compensation payments. Buying formula regularly has become intolerable burden for the family budgets.

Another barrier – limitations of transportation due to quarantine measures. Many governmental establishments switched to distant service format, and it created a very long queue of people wanting to order the service of gathering necessary documents to confirm their low-income status. In Nizhny Novgorod region you have to confirm your low-income status with a number of documents in order to be eligible to receive compensation to buy formula milk, and gathering these documents has become a huge ordeal for recently delivered mothers. Limitations of transportation also dramatically influenced the accessibility of ARV therapy medicines.

As a result, women living with HIV and raising infant babies in Nizhny Novgorod region found themselves in a situation of colossal danger: commitment to ARV treatment weakened, the risk of breast-feeding and vertical HIV transmission backed up by the absence of money to buy formula became possible.

What were your goals and did you succeed in achieving them?

The first goal: to stop transmission of HIV from mother to child through the breast milk in Nizhny Novgorod region.

The second goal: to prevent decrease of commitment to ART in women living with HIV in Nizhniy Novgorod region.

The third goal: to enlarge the community of women living with HIV and to enhance sustainability of this community on the territory of the Nizhny Novgorod region.

In the process of implementation we have added a few more goals to this list. We wanted to reach the maximum number of women living with HIV and raising babies aged 0 to 1 year old in Nizhny Novgorod region, and we have designed a system of distribution of humanitarian aid.

The system we designed consisted in printing out vouchers with individual numbers for humanitarian aid and giving them to the Nizhny Novgorod Regional AIDS Center (it is the place where all PLHIV receive ART medicines and undergo medical evaluations, including women with children). According to the internal protocols of the Center, women living with HIV who deliver babies, are obliged to visit pediatrician and conduct HIV screening for their children for at least one year. Therefore, when women visited the Center they received both the core services plus our voucher and a consultation with our peer consultant and a package of humanitarian aid. Therefore we added new goals: to reduce the number of missed screenings both for women living with HIV and their babies aged 0 to 1 y.o., and also to return women living with HIV who dropped out of treatment back into the regimen.

In simple words it looked like this:

  • Hi, good afternoon, is it STEP Foundation?
  • Can we get diapers and formula?
  • Yes, go to the AIDS prevention center, they will give you a voucher, and then come back to us with this voucher.

Assisted by the Foundation staff, we plan the next visit to the pediatrician.

Thanks to the Emergency Support Fund, we reached out to 80 women living with HIV who have babies aged 0-1 years old – they received direct material support. 16 women received assistance via consultations on receiving governmental subsidies for the purchase (distribution) of formula.

We were able to return 8 women back to ARV treatment and to enhance adherence to treatment in other women, because all of them visited consultations provided by our peer consultant.

Additionally, while running this project we were able to identify the main reason of ART rejection: psychological fear of taking ARV medicines, fear of side effects associated with ARV therapy, low awareness of the course of HIV infection and of the consequences of late initiation of ARV therapy (for example, developing the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome), self-stigmatisation and fear of disclosing the disease to close people, as well as postpartum depression.

What were the unexpected, unplanned outcomes and peculiarities of the project?

Unexpected outcomes include completing tasks that were not related to the main goal of the project. Some of the clients who turned to our Foundation for help also received consultations from specialists on the prevention of the use of narcotics and psychotropic drugs.

For example, at one of the consultations we found out that a women living with HIV and raising two children was also a drug-addict. Social workers of our Foundation referred her to the Social Rehabilitation Center for addicts established under the Ministry of Health of Nizhny Novgorod region. This project literary saved her life, when she came to get humanitarian aid. She is now undergoing social and psychological rehabilitation after using narcotics.

Another outcome that we did not expect was consulting a woman in a situation of domestic violence. This woman now uses the services of a charity foundation that works with the problem of domestic violence in our region.

Two women from our target group addressed the Foundation reporting health problems caused by ART cancellation. They received consultations regarding adherence to treatment, today they are provided with the necessary medicines and started treatment again, they are under social observation of the STEP Foundation’s specialists.

What’s more, during the project’s implementation, the formula supplier increased the number of packages free of charge, and it allowed us to give prompt help to women in excess of the budget and to continue implementation even after we reached the project’s target indicators.

We received gratitude from the pediatrics staff of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional AIDS Center. The formula vouchers were distributed via pediatricians’ offices of the Center and it allowed doctors to establish additional control over the families that tend to drop out from D-observation.

Does your organization run any advocacy activities? Did the grant expand the advocacy focus?

Yes, we do, we provide legal support to people living with HIV. We have a consultant who provides counselling on legal matters related to HIV – Alyona Tarasova. By the way, within the framework of this project, we have taken a case of adoptive parents who adopted children living with HIV and who are unable to receive disability status for these kids and subsidies promised by the state. The case is now in work.

After receiving the second tranche of the emergency support, we initiated a research of barriers in access to breast milk substitutes in the target group of the project in Nizhny Novgorod region. The sample estimates 83 women. At this moment, we are processing the research data and will continue further advocacy activities based on the research results.

In your report you mention outstanding effectiveness of the project in the context of expanding the community in Nizhny Novgorod region.

In addition to targeted support, we were able to expand the Nizhny Novgorod community of women living with HIV (who actively communicate via Viber channel created for them) from 20 to 73 people as of today. This growth was achieved very quickly, and this is extraordinary success for our region, because it opens up new perspectives for prevention activities, support of women’s activism and our clients’ rights protection.

How did this grant influence the development of your organisation?

The project on the provision of emergency support became the basis of the “Commitment” Project, which received support from the Presidential Grants Fund  (application No. 21-1-002469) in February 2021, thereby boosting the project with lectures on prevention and informational activities by doctors, psychologists, peer consultants, and social workers.

The project budget has been increased by more than 100%. Per our estimates, the provision of formula and humanitarian packages will continue until May 2021 according to the scheme developed under the project supported by the Emergency Support Fund.

Emergency Support Fund raises the maximum amount per grant to € 8.000

The Emergency Support Fund for Key Populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) strives for a comprehensive response to emergencies threatening HIV service provision for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

AFEW International and Aidsfonds respond to these emergencies with small grants for 10 EECA countries (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan). The grant call is open to registered and non-registered NGOs and CBOs, working in the area of HIV and human rights, with activities ranging from advocacy and prevention, to treatment and care in terms of HIV and co-infections.

The overall goal of the Fund is to improve HIV prevention, treatment and care for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

As of March 2021, the Fund raises the maximum amount per grant to € 8.000,-. Only applications with a strong sustainability plan can be awarded the maximum amount, whereas the costs of the sustainability activities cannot exceed € 3.000,- or account for more than 37.5% of the total amount of the grant.

PLEASE NOTE: To submit to the Emergency Support Fund, applicants can fill in an online Application Form. We will not accept any applications by email. The Application Form consists of two parts. Part 1 has to be completed to submit an application. In order to speed up the contracting, applicants are encouraged to already fill in Part 2, providing organizational and banking details, when submitting their application. Applicants are allowed to submit more than one application. Applicants can receive more than one grant.

The Fund will be operational until December 2021; activities funded with an ESF grant should finish no later than October 1, 2021.

Learn more and apply

We are no longer at risk of having to close our doors!

In 2020, the Emergency Support Fund for key populations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia supported 85 applications from 9 countries. One of them was a project to support the Revansh drop-in centre in Kazakhstan, which at the time of filing the application was facing the threat of closure.

Elena Bilokon, Head of the center, told AFEW International about how the Fund helped the centre to continue its activities and provide vital services aimed at removing barriers to access to treatment and medical and social services among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) and People Living with HIV.

An emergency situation

Our centre first opened 3 years ago. Since then, we have succeeded in providing assistance to people from socially unprotected segments of the population, people who are often rejected even by those closest to them due to being diagnosed with HIV or tuberculosis; people who have lost all hope that the future could be brighter than the present. In 2020, our drop-in centre was under threat of closure due to inability to pay the rent. If it were closed, then 18 people living in the drop-in center would be on the street, and 422 people could lose their registration and, accordingly, access to ARV treatment and prevention, as well as other medical and social services. At the time of contacting the Fund, the center had a 3-month lease debt of 600 thousand Kazakhstani tenge (approximately 1400 USD), and did not have the means to pay fees to team members.

Results

Our activities within the framework of the project provided people with access to medical and social services. This included increased the access of PWID to medical services, allowing them to enter opioid substitution therapy programs, enabling people to start taking ARV therapy and TB treatment, and improved their quality of life. We were also able to communicate the problems and situations experienced by people with TB and HIV to government agencies, the media and the partner network of providers.

Centre for women who left detention facilities

During the implementation of our projects, we had an urgent need to revise a range of special social services, taking into account needs by gender. We had to solve the problem of finding temporary housing for women with socially significant diseases and their children. Centres which provide services to men, including those registered with probation services, such as The Centre for Social Adaptation, do not accept children. During the COVID-19 quarantine and global crisis, women of this target group suffered the harshest consequences. Many of them lost their jobs, due to the inability to pay the rent, or due to a lack of documents or gadgets, or low computer literacy. Many could not receive government benefits during the emergency.

Therefore, in May, within the framework of the UNFPA project to strengthen the potential of women, we opened another centre for women living with HIV. The centre was dedicated to women who left detention facilities and found themselves in difficult life situations, where they underwent a re-socialization program and received temporary accommodation services. A range of services were provided to 132 women and 37 children. These women learnt computer literacy, completed courses in hairdressing and sewing, received help from a psychologist and a lawyer who was attached to the clinic, and began to receive ARV treatment. Also, the women studied in a law school organized with the support of the Emergency Aid Fund. This project ended at the end of September and we see a need to continue this initiative.

What does the Emergency Support Fund mean for you?

The support of the fund was a kind of lifeline for us, since our organization was on the verge of collapse. In addition, the grant from the Fund became a launching pad for new opportunities and expanding partnerships. So, for example, from September 1, 2020, we are participating in the 4-year project “Radian” – “Creation and implementation of a sustainable, comprehensive, cost-effective urban program to control the HIV epidemic in the city of Almaty”. This is aimed at increasing adherence to ARV treatment, as well as testing and prevention.

The Soros Foundation extended its support in 2020. Within the framework of the project, people can receive the entire necessary range of services, including completing necessary documentation for registration and temporary residence, they can also use paid ultrasound and dentist services – many have not received these services since the age of 15-18. The types of services our organization provides has expanded, and today we provide psycho-social support to women of fertile age at a new clinic, where our peer consultants provide Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights consultations and consultations on ARV adherence. In general, the Emergency Fund helped to strengthen the capacity of the organization, the professional growth of employees, the development of policies and procedures of the organization. Through a variety of gender-oriented services, it helped to solve acute psychological, legal and social problems of women from key populations, helped them to gain counselling skills, communication skills, the ability to speak with employers, government officials, and enabled them to re-establish broken social ties with relatives.

A client´s story

A man, originally from Karaganda, was in Almaty, working, when the COVID-19 emergency hit. It so happened that he lost his documents, contracted COVID-19 and received treatment. However, after being discharged from hospital, the man had nowhere to go. Being in a new city, without documents, he was facing his difficulties alone. He was also unable to receive his ARV therapy. Luckily, the man ended up in our centre. During his stay at the project, he managed to recover his identity card, and registered with Centre-AIDS, where was provided with psychological and legal assistance, and found a job.

Maria, 42 years old, a person living with HIV, a user of psychoactive substances, had been on the list of lost patients of the State AIDS Center since 2019. She was admitted to the Revanch Foundation from the Republican Center for Mental Health after undergoing treatment for addiction to psychoactive substances, with partial amnesia and suicidal inclinations. During the three months of her stay in the Project, she received all the necessary range of services: she was signed up to receive primary health care, she received access to ART, accommodation services, assistance in obtaining disability pension payments, she underwent an ultrasound of the heart, she received a grocery certificate. She now attends Counselling Groups and Legal Literacy Schools.

It is for the sake of happy stories such as these that we continue our activities. Thank you very much to your foundation for supporting the most vulnerable groups of the population and helping us to implement socially significant projects.