HIV/AIDS has had limited impact so far in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) with only 74 reported cases of people living with the disease and currently on antiretroviral therapy. Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in BiH is low, the focus on preventing an increase in infection is high. Early identification of the disease enables individuals to take actions that benefit both their own health and public health, and the early treatment of those infected substantially reduces the risk of HIV transmission to others.
16 million U.S. dollars ensured for the prevention of HIV infection in BiH
United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yuri Afanasiev and Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sredoje Novic signed the Project Document for the Phase II of the project “Scaling up Universal Access for the Most-At-Risk Populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, today in Sarajevo. The project is valued at approximately 16 million US dollars and financed by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) with the aim to prevent spreading of the HIV infection.
Yuri Afanasiev emphasized that the project started in 2006, and till now has been successfully implemented by the health institutions at all levels in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in cooperation with civil society organizations who work directly with the most-at-risk populations.
After the signing of this document Minister Novic accentuated that the HIV infection is under control in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating that there are 222 cases of HIV infection registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 10-12 new cases registered per year, however the prevention is needed so that the number of newly infected does not increase.
“About 26 million US dollars from the Global Fund Grant have been invested in HIV program of Bosnia and Herzegovina from December 2006 till November 2012. In the last two years, this programme encompassed around 7000 representatives of the Most-at-risk populations, 12.500 Roma, migrants and returnees, and preventive services were provided to 770 prisoners“, Novic stated.
Minister Novic noted that BiH is obliged to make the activities that had been implemented through the projects funded by the Global Fund grants more sustainable after project completion.
Over the next 2.5 years, the project will continue the activities aimed at HIV prevention with a focus on Most-at-risk populations (injection drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men, Roma, migrants and prisoners).
The prevention approach will be based on the harm reduction principles including communication with the community, a variety of medical treatment services, counseling and testing services, the fight against stigma and discrimination, as well as other promotional activities. This program owes its success to the most remarkable synergy of the promotional/educational and preventive activities, non-governmental and governmental sectors in cooperation with professionals, and commitment to the common goal of preserving health in BiH.