Police Education as a Component of National HIV Response: Lessons from Kyrgyzstan
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 132, Supplement 1, Pages S48-S52 (2013)
Posted: 6 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 1, 2013
Background: Recognition of the police department’s role in shaping HIV spread and prevention has generated interest in educational interventions targeting law enforcement. With input from civil society, trainings covering HIV prevention science, policy, and occupational safety were developed and delivered to cadets and active-duty police across Kyrgyzstan.
Methods: We administered a multi-site cross-sectional survey of Kyrgyz police to assess whether undergoing HIV trainings was associated with improved legal and public health knowledge, positive attitudes towards public health programs and policies, occupational safety awareness, and intended practices targeting vulnerable groups.
Results: In 313-officer sample, 38% reported undergoing the training. In multivariate analysis, training was associated with being significantly more likely to support referring individuals to harm reduction organizations (aOR 2.21; 95%CI 1.33-3.68), expressing no intent to extrajudicially confiscate syringes (aOR 1.92; 95%CI 1.09-3.39), and better understanding sex worker detention procedure (aOR 2.23; 95%CI 1.19-4.46), although trainee knowledge of policy on routine identification checks for sex workers was significantly lower (aOR 3.0; 95%CI 1.78-5.05). Training was also associated with improved occupational safety knowledge (aOR 3.85; 95%CI 1.66-8.95).
Conclusion: Kyrgyzstan’s experience suggest that police trainings have the potential to improve the integration of policing and public health efforts targeting at-risk groups. Regardless of the legal environment, such structural approaches should be considered elsewhere in Central Asia and beyond. As these initiatives gain acceptance, further research is needed to inform their design and tailoring.
Keywords: Central Asia, Injection drug use, structural interventions, policing, police training, HIV, HIV prevention
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