«RENAISSANCE» PROJECT – HIV and STI prevention among heterosexual couples injecting  drugs in Almaty

Prevalence of the injecting drug users in Kazakhstan remains one of the highest in the world. Fifteen percent of the adult population in some localities is injection drug users. The main base of the research is Almaty city where the estimated number of IDUs is 22,700 (2008). More than 80 percent of these IDUs are less than 30 years old, and a major part of them are sexually active. The proposed project is considered in the category of a family HIV preventive research.

       “Renaissance” Project is a five years research (2008 — 2013) implemented by the Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA) aimed at the preventive activity effectiveness evaluation to reduce the risks of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Research outcomes will allow addressing the wide range of aspects related to forming different HIV and STIs risks factors, and developing effective preventive measures against such diseases that in turn allow improving health and treatment services in Kazakhstan and other Central Asia countries. The main research result are the development of the new HIV and STI science-based preventive methods in working with heterosexual couples, adapted to the local conditions, obtaining the proof of the effectiveness, appropriateness, stability and need in applying the programs in public and treatment facilities activity in Kazakhstan, HIV, HCV and STI prevalence reduction in the country.

Project goal:

The proposed research is aimed at testing the effectiveness of couple-based HIV, HCV and STI preventive intervention to reduce the risk of these diseases, increase condom use and reduce the probability of unsafe behaviors among injecting drug users and their heterosexual partners in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Research short description:

The project is a randomized controlled study among 300 couples (totally 600 participants) consisting of the main member (one out of two IDUs in a couple, who completed screening and met all selection criteria) and his/her partner, both randomly selected for one out of two categories: (1) HIV/STIs risk reduction, consisting of five sessions in the couple group; or (2) Wellness promotion, consisting of five sessions in the couple group which was used as a control. Behavioral and biological data will be collected at the following stages: during the baseline interview, and at 3, 6, and 12 months after intervention completion.

Possible benefits from the participation in the project:

  • Gaining knowledge and practical skills in HIV, HCV and STI prevention;
  • Acquisition skills of effective communication and resolution of problems between the partners;
  • Gaining of knowledge in improving the health conditions and wellness, in particular in terms of nutrition, diet, physical activity and stress control;
  • Possibility to pass HIV, HCV and STI laboratory tests, and free treatment in case of positive test results;
  • Gaining of knowledge in overdose prevention and control.

Participants’ reference to “Renaissance” Project:

Having completed the project sessions I’ve got to know much useful information. Work with psychologists allowed me finding the way out of my problematic situation. So I think the project is very good and useful anyway. Regards. Sergey”.

“The «Renaissance» Project is of great value for those at risk of STIs. I learned a lot how o be safe in this term. Many thanks to the project team — their professionalism and dedication make good work for the society. Through the project I personally received the information to which I paid not much attention earlier. Using such knowledge I learned how to be more tolerant with my partner.  Now we have no closed topics related to STIs and drug use risks.

Wishes: I would like to participate in the similar project aimed at risks related with alcohol abuse, since the social danger for people using alcohol is not less than that from drug use. Many thanks to the Renaissance Project and project team! Good luck!!”

“Your project really helped us (me and my husband) to realize the problem, and — what is more important – to get out of our “dirty lifestyle”. Only here I could confess to people around me and myself that I was dependent on drugs and I needed help. We are so grateful to our facilitator, nurse and all group participants for their understanding and help. I hope that other people having the same problems will overcome themselves and realize the problem. The most important thing is to believe and know that you need it! There is nothing to be afraid of. Be honest with yourself and you will be able to eradicate any problems. Many thanks to the project, thanks for my ability to see the sun in different way, to feel the life; to love…I wish you prosperity and very many saved souls!”

“Hi, Renaissance. I’m very glad that there is such a program. You helped me to think over my life. I gave up drugs after your project, and now do not drink much as I did earlier, I have a desire to live but not to exist. I pay more attention to my relatives and friends. Thank you very much indeed. Dmitriy.” 

“Renaissance Project, I learned a lot of good and useful things about healthy lifestyle. The entire negative is waning gradually. Study, personality formation in a man, struggle for health, and help in a difficult moment of life — all these I’ve learnt from the project. It’s great that you work in this area. I wish you to open more offices like this, good luck with your patients, and all the best to you… Sergey. «

“Renaissance Project – You are needed! Needed very much! First of all for those who are dependent and know their problems, but never think over their health and healthy life. Thank you for the sessions on healthy nutrition. I would never read such literature, but having attended the sessions I got to know something new for me. We, the former and current users, really need your help. We not only communicate with each other but see the example of how can we become better and change radically our lives. I wish you to growth and development, and to open branches in different cities and towns.   Thank you! … Olga. «