Since its inception in 1990, SIG has been dedicated to reducing health disparities of vulnerable populations in New York City. In 2007, under SIG leadership, GHRCCA was established with a branch office in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In 2010, the work of Wellspring NGO in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia was incorporated into the scope of the Center. In 2011, a local NGO was established in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Center also has Regional Representatives in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Today, the HIV epidemic in Kazakhstan is relatively young and is highly concentrated among injecting drug users and sex workers. Kazakhstan’s location on major drug trafficking arteries, in addition to high rates of unemployment, migration and poverty, high-risk behaviour has contributed to rising HIV infection rates. Monitored by Social Intervention Group leadership, the Global Health Center of Central Asia has been working in Kazakhstan for over ten years with a multi-disciplinary team of faculty, scientists, researchers, and students. Advancing solutions to health and social issues, including overlapping risk environments of HCV, TB and MDR-TB in Kazakhstan among general population and particularly among migrant workers. Research and advocacy projects currently focus on generating evidenced-based research for overdose prevention include advancing use of peer-distributed Naloxone. Another ongoing area of research and training is HIV prevention among those at high-risk for infection including injection drug users and sex workers. The GHRCCA branch office in Almaty is the regional hub for ongoing HIV, TB, and other social and health research and training in the Central Asia region, coordinating projects with partners in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Mongolia currently has low, but steadily increasing HIV prevalence. Sixty percent of women living with HIV in Mongolia are women engaged in sex work. However, as a country in economic and political transition, it has increasingly high rates of sexually transmitted infections and alcohol dependence, both critical co-factors associated with emerging HIV epidemics in other parts of the world. Most sex workers (78.43%) recruited through targeted sampling report harmful alcohol use. High rates of poverty and unemployment, disproportionate unemployment among women, and the usual vagaries of weather all exacerbate the problem of diminishing employment opportunities for women in Mongolia, many who are engaging in sex work for survival, and the clients of whom represent a key bridge population to a more generalized epidemic. To address these issues, GHRCCA projects in Mongolia have focused on development and testing of HIV prevention interventions for women are engaged in survival sex, for testing combination HIV prevention and microfinance interventions for women and testing interventions for reducing risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among factory workers in Ulaanbaatar.
For over twenty-five years the Social Intervention Group has worked in New York City using rigorous research and employing novel intervention approaches and using state-of-the-art research designs and analytic methods to address the needs of vulnerable populations (Substance Users, People in Criminal Justice Settings, and Sexual Minorities etc).
HIV infection rates continue to be a growing problem in Tajikistan. This is due to limited opportunities, poverty, unemployment and as well as the increasing use of injecting drugs. Estimates place the number of injecting drug users in the tens of thousands. Tajikistan’s location as first stop on the principal route for the transport of drugs out of Afghanistan has undoubtedly contributed to these factors. Furthermore, Cultural beliefs regarding sex have created poor access to important healthcare information. A 2003 rapid assessment and response survey found that almost 90 per cent of especially vulnerable young people, such as injecting drug users, commercial sex workers and street children, share needles, are sexually active and have multiple sex partners, while only about 17 per cent sometimes rely on condoms during sex. Currently SIG is working with Migrant Workers from Tajikistan.
The Social Intervention Group is currently in the preliminary stages of research exploring the High levels of HIV for fishermen in Malaysia than that of the general population, to date, this research will be the first of its kind to examine the HIV risk behaviors among this population and the forces that may be driving the HIV epidemic among fisherman in Malaysia. Factors that are being considered are drug use prevalence