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Our partners, Operation Mercy Kazakhstan and AIDSLink International ran HIV awareness workshops in Almaty and Shimkent. One of the aims of the project is to reduced stigmatism towards those affected by HIV and AIDS and from their communities and peers. During the training there were individual testimonies from people sharing how before the training they were afraid of helping people with HIV and AIDS. They were afraid that they would contract the disease from sharing utensils or holding onto the same pole as them on the bus. They had assumed that because the disease was a virus then it is as contagious as other virus’ like the flu.

The response to the training was extremely positive. The participants were surprised at the stigma HIV and AIDS bring – especially when they realised that they were also prejudiced against those living with HIV. They were encouraged that they can help and support people affected by HIV or AIDS and be channels of hope for them.

Rose said that she had very little idea about HIV when she came on the course. She did not know that the training would be so applicable to her, but everything came together, and now she knows how to encourage and help other people. She realised that she benefitted personally from the course.

Another participant Hope, said that someone she knew who has HIV got married and it was very hard for her. She knew that people with HIV are not bad people but she was still scared. After the training she now knows that she doesn't need to be scared and that she can work with everyone. She now wants to apologise to the person she knows for judging them incorrectly.