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Joint UN mission visits intervention sites in Narayanganj supporting HIV response

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 14th September, 2022 08:41:23 PM
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A joint mission of the United Nations (UN) headed by UN Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis visited project Intervention sites in Naraynganj supporting HIV response on Tuesday (Sept13).

The mission focused on learning from projects that work to prevent the spread of HIV amongst sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people and other key population groups who may be affected by HIV, said the UN Information Centre, Dhaka.

The Joint Mission consisted of the country directors for UNAIDS Dr Saima Khan and UN Women Gitanjali Singh, along with other representatives from UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF, and UNODC. Representatives from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s AIDS/STD Programme (ASP) and implementing partners were also present during this visit.

The implementing partners include Save the Children, icddr,b, Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Care Bangladesh and the Networks and CBOs of sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender, etc. The mission spoke with several members of key targeted populations at four DICs. DICs are drop-in centres where socially marginalized groups can access health and support services to prevent HIV and from where individuals are referred to other services that they may need regarding health, social welfare, etc.

Some of these centres implement opioid substitution therapy (OST), which involves supporting those suffering from opioid use through various means. Beyond these supports, the centres sometimes also facilitate socio-economic integration to support affected populations in earning a livelihood.

Speaking on the four DIC’s visited Gwyn Lewis remarked how these centres were “Demonstrating what partnerships can do to change lives for the better.” She also highlighted the need to have a holistic approach to the HIV response, focusing on providing choices and socio-economic opportunities to those affected regardless of their sexual identities or professions.

Dr Saima Khan of UNAIDS added on the need for a holistic approach that when a sex worker, a person who injects drugs or a transgender person faces violence regularly, remains hungry and/or cannot access basic social, health or legal services – then HIV prevention holds no meaning for them.

The interventions are supported by the AIDS/STD Programme of the Government of Bangladesh, the Global Fund, implementing NGOs, community-based organizations, and UN agencies. Similar interventions are ongoing across Bangladesh; however, the coverage of these prevention interventions have the scope to increase. These interventions are part of the whole prevention, treatment, care and support services being provided under the larger response to HIV.

HIV services also embrace human rights and gender-based approaches through local and national advocacy to increase access to services addressing gender-based violence and social welfare. Key populations for HIV interventions often have needs that are unique, and their meaningful participation is critical to a successful HIV response.