Police education as a component of national HIV response: lessons from Kyrgyzstan

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Nov;132 Suppl 1:S48-52. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.06.027. Epub 2013 Jul 26.


Background: Recognition of the police's role in shaping HIV spread and prevention among people who inject drugs, sex workers, and other at-risk groups 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 having undergone HIV trainings was associated with improved legal and public health knowledge, positive attitudes toward public health programs and policies, occupational safety awareness, and intended practices .

Results: In a 313-officer sample, 38% reported undergoing the training. In a multivariate analysis, training was associated with the officer being significantly more likely to support referring individuals to public health 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; HIV; HIV prevention; Injection drug use; Police training; Policing; Structural interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Law Enforcement
  • Police / education*
  • Public Health*