The issues faced by people living with HIV are not overlooked in Azerbaijan. The story of Samir (name changed) is just one of many cases, and former prisoners who have spent time in prison for breaking the law are well aware of the problem. Before being imprisoned, Samir injected drugs and got HIV as a result of improper syringe use. Despite his imprisonment, he did not stop his dangerous practice after his release.
It was known that the Republican Narcology Center (RNC) could provide an opportunity to participate in an opioid substitution therapy (OST) program. However, Samir faced a refusal when he applied to the Center, motivated by the need to undergo mandatory treatment before joining the program.
In June 2023, Samir sought help from the REActor and asked for assistance in enrolling in the OST program. He explained that he was already taking antiretroviral treatment and enrolling in the program would help him to break the cycle.
Given that the organization is a member of the Country Coordinating Mechanism, which also includes the RNC, the project coordinator contacted the head of the Center. As a result of the discussion, it was agreed that Samir could be included in the OST program without mandatory pre-treatment. For convenience, Samir’s inclusion in the program was done at a point located at the Republican AIDS Center.
The current situation with HIV-positive prisoners in Azerbaijan has its own nuances. In recent years, the country has taken steps to improve access to health services, legal aid and social protection for key populations, including those released from detention. However, significant work remains to be done to achieve positive change.