amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

GMT Grantee Profile: Equal Opportunities (Tajikistan)

Working with GMT in Central Asia

Strategies  

  • Working with healthcare workers to provide GMT-friendly HIV care
  • Distributing condoms and lubricant to GMT
  • Conducting sexual health workshops at its resource center

gmt taj

Members of Equal Opportunities  

amfAR’s GMT Initiative has awarded funding over the last three years to Equal Opportunities (EO), a Tajikistan-based organization that protects the rights and health of gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (collectively GMT).

Tajikistan is a landlocked, primarily Muslim country in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. While overall HIV prevalence in Tajikistan is relatively low, according to UNAIDS it has doubled since 2001. Approximately 11,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV in this country with a population of less than 8 million.

Equal Opportunity works with doctors, nurses, and counselors to provide GMT-friendly treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and to distribute condoms and lubricant. The latest amfAR grant, announced in October 2012, will support EO in conducting sexual health workshops and outreach services at its resource center in Dushanbe.

Results of a recent survey of new visitors to the center showed that the level of awareness of HIV and STIs is extremely low among GMT in Dushanbe. Of the 152 respondents, only 19 were able to correctly answer basic questions about AIDS. This lack of knowledge suggests that many GMT in the area are vulnerable to contracting HIV.

“Tajikistan is a country with a more conservative outlook,” says Kiromiddin D. Gulov, the director of EO. “We still have high levels of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people.”

“But despite the slow pace of progress,” Gulov says, “we are changing the situation for the better, and creating more favorable conditions for the LGBT community in Tajikistan.”

With its first two grants, amfAR supported EO in opening up its resource center, the first to provide services for GMT in Tajikistan, and enabled the organization to expand its advocacy efforts, as well as to release the first country review on the status of GMT in Tajikistan.

In their own words

Kiromiddin D. Gulov is the Director of Equal Opportunities.  

“Despite our achievements, there are many challenges and barriers that still hamper more efficient operation and improvement of the country’s acceptance of GMT. There are cases of attacks, beatings, intimidation, and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation in Tajikistan…And there are no other local organizations, advocates, or partners that help us in the development of our programs.

With funding from amfAR, we have been able to extend the reach of our programs in Tajikistan…amfAR has made a great contribution to the development and provision of direct services for the GMT community.”