Support to the National HIV/AIDS Program


  Dima Kandaleft, a famous Syrian actress attends an awareness building workshop hosted by the Global Fund Program and the Syrian Red Crescent on HIV/AIDS in Damascus.

Syria has a low-prevalence HIV epidemic, with very low levels of HIV among the general population, as well as among key populations at risk, such as female sex workers (FSWs) and their clients, men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDUs). Between 1987 and December 2011, a total of 762 HIV and AIDS cases were reported. In 2010 and 2011, 66 and 69 new cases of HIV/AIDS were found respectively. The male-to-female sex ratio among reported Syrian HIV cases is 3:1.

HIV trends show a slow but steady increase of new reported HIV cases over time. While the annual number of reported cases stayed below 25 till the year 2000, since 2006, the number of new cases increased to between 50-70 per year. Large-scale HIV screening took place in 2010 and 2011, with more than 675,000 tests conducted in 2011. Two main HIV-testing mechanisms – among blood donors and premarital couples – accounted for 81% of all tests in 2011, while VCT coverage was very low, with 1,541 clients in 2011.

Officially reported modes of HIV transmission of the cumulative number of 371 Syrian HIV patients show that most HIV transmission is heterosexual (63%), representing 71 percent of HIV cases among women, and 60 percent among men. Overall, blood transfusions contribute to 8 percent of HIV transmission, while injecting drug use and mother-to-child transmission are minor HIV-transmission channels (5% each). Homo- or bisexual transmission reportedly represents 14 percent of cases among men (10.5% of all HIV cases).

While current HIV rates remain low, various factors could drive a potential HIV epidemic in the future, if not attended. Poverty, massive labour migration and mobility, human trafficking, increased exposure to external cultural and economic systems, as well as changing sexual behaviors among young people may drive future HIV transmission. Population groups such as male and female sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men are all at particularly high risk.

In addition, young people in disadvantaged economic situations may be more vulnerable to HIV. In this context the national response to HIV/AIDS needs to focus on these key populations and drivers of the epidemic. This requires supportive legal, policy and social environments, which enable the effective implementation of targeted HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes and services.

Achievements and Expected Results

UNDP is the principle recipient of a grant from the Global Fund to support the National AIDS Programme in Syria. The objectives of the grant includes: Information Systems -Strengthening Surveillance & Research on MARPs Groups, Creating Supportive Legal and Policy Environments and providing ARV treatment.

The first objective included a bio-behavior study of four MARPs groups, Female Sex Workers, Injecting Drug Users, Men who have Sex with Men and Prisoners. The study was conducted and the outcome of the study will be presented during August 2014. The outcome will be of value to help the country to adopt a policy to control the spread of AIDS among MARPs groups and the general population.

A comprehensive review of the legal environment in Syria was conducted and found that all current laws do not specifically discriminate against MARPs groups and/or PLWHIV/AIDS. On the third objective, UNDP is providing first and second line ARV for about 165 HIV/AIDS patients; in addition Viral Load and CD4 are measured periodically for all PLWHIV to assess the efficacy of the ARV treatment. In short the grant is supporting the Ministry of Health to provide special service and care to PLWHIV.


Donor Name
Amount contributed per year
The Global Fund $493,630.58 2012
The Global Fund $801,749.20 2013
The Global Fund $413,784.98 2014

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