Central Asia and Eastern Europe


Page last updated June 9, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

11. HIV Prevalence in Central Asia

"Although there are fast-growing HIV epidemics across central Asia, Uzbekistan has the largest number of people with HIV and is experiencing a particularly deteriorating situation (table 2).1,16,21–23 The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV has increased more than 11 times in Uzbekistan between 2001 and 2006 compared with four times in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.24 Young people have been most affected by the HIV epidemic: in Uzbekistan 8413 (64%) of 13,146 cumulative HIV cases have been among people aged 34 years or younger,25 in Kyrgyzstan 773 (57%) of 1357 cases are in those younger than 30 years,26 and in Kazakhstan 891 (45%) of 1979 cases registered in 2007 were in the 20–29 year age group.27 The predominant HIV genetic subtype in central Asia is subtype A, as it is in eastern Europe, distinguishing the epidemic in this sub-region from that in western Europe, where subtype B predominates.28–30"

Claire Thorne, et al., "Central Asia: Hotspot in the Worldwide HIV Epidemic," The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2010 Jul;10(7):479-88. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70118-3

12. Prevalence of HIV Infection in Tajikistan, 2011

"As of December 31, 2011, a cumulative total of 3,846 HIV infections had been diagnosed in the country, with HIV infections among males comprising 77.7% and among females 22.3%. The incidence of HIV (diagnosed infections) is 43.4 per 100,000 members of the population. HIV infections were registered in 66 out of 68 districts of the country. The total number of AIDS-related deaths is 552 (14.4.% of diagnosed HIV cases). The estimated number of people infected with HIV has been put between 6,800 and 10,000. Furthermore, in recent years, the number of new HIV infections diagnosed among women has increased almost 2 to 3 times. Thus, in 2005, newly diagnosed HIV infections among women made up 8.5%, whereas they made up 20.2% in 2011.
"By the end of 2011, in terms of the cumulative total of HIV infections diagnosed in the country, 52.6% were transmitted intravenously; 29.8% were transmitted through unprotected sexual contact; 1.5% were transmitted from mother to child, and for 15.7% the transmission mode was unknown. The prevalence of HIV infection is over 5% among some of the most-at-risk population groups, such as IDUs, indicating that Tajikistan has a concentrated HIV epidemic."

Hasanov Kh.B., Muhabatov M.S., Makhsutov M.N., Chikalov Y.P., Murodova F.R., and Nurlyaminova Z.A. "2012 National Report on the Drug Situation in the Republic of Tajikistan (Drug situation in 2011)" (Dushanbe: National Centre for Monitoring and Prevention of Drug Addiction, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan/Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP)), p. 27.

13. Drug Use and HIV in Prisons in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

"Incarceration often makes things worse. Drugs are widely available in most prisons, and HIV transmission is a serious risk given the difficulty in obtaining clean injecting material and other prevention commodities such as condoms. In Tajikistan, for example, the number of HIV cases in prisons is steadily rising. Personal testimonies indicate that heroin is fairly easy to find now in prisons81.
"Data from Kyrgyzstan also suggest that drugs are widely available in prison settings, with reports of drug use varying from 20% to 50%82. Prisoners often reportedly have injected dimedrol, a particularly caustic and dangerous substance, and suffered life-threatening injuries."

Merkinaite, S. "A war against people who use drugs: the costs" (Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN): Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012), pp. 25-26.

14. Criminal Penalties for Possession in Ukraine

"In September 2010, a new Concept of Drug Policy through 2015 was introduced that does not stipulate any measures for drug treatment. One month later, the government amended the drug laws and criminalized possession of extremely low amounts of narcotic substances—for example, for “acetylated opium” (0.005 grams vs. 0.1 grams in wording previously used), “opium” (0.1 grams vs. 0.5 grams), “acetic anhydride” (2 grams vs. 250 grams), “norefedrine” (0.3 grams vs. 0.3 kilograms) “ephedrine” and “pseudo-ephedrine” (0.6 grams vs. 30 grams).
"Judicial practice in Ukraine proves that in certain cases even traces of these drugs in a used syringe may be enough to bring a person to criminal liability under p. 309 or p. 311 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which could lead to up to three years of imprisonment. As many of those substances, especially acetylated opiate, are commonly used in Ukraine by people who inject drugs, this amendment virtually makes drug dependence equivalent to being a criminal.
"In September 2011, the District Administrative Court in Kyiv, Ukraine dismissed a claim filed by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine to invalidate provisions of the Ministry of Health’s order approving such low thresholds. According to Alliance court papers, the provisions have greatly impeded HIV prevention efforts among people who inject drugs. The organization observed that since the change, the amount of needles collected though NSPs had decreased due to fear of criminal prosecution for illegal drug possession, thus raising the likelihood of a surge in new HIV cases in the country71. The court’s decision was based on its reasoning that since drug use is classified as an illegal action, drug users who choose to commit the crime should be held accountable72."

Merkinaite, S. "A war against people who use drugs: the costs" (Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN): Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012), pp. 23-24.

15. Extent and Cost of Imprisoning Drug Users in Georgia

"The imprisonment of 1,605 people detained in 2008 on the basis of positive drug tests in Georgia cost $4.7 million, and overall costs for imprisonment in the country continue to surge in response to new, punitive policies. In the past few years the prison population has increased four-fold (from 6,000 to 24,000)86."

Merkinaite, S. "A war against people who use drugs: the costs" (Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN): Vilnius, Lithuania, 2012), p. 26.