Silhouettes of deceased Ukrainians appeared in all regions of Ukraine at the AIDS Memorial DAY #UNFORGOTTEN. This way the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS offered Ukrainians to recall thousands of people who have died from HIV/AIDS.
“I’ve been living with HIV for about 20 years. And that’s because I got lucky – I was among the first in Ukraine who started antiretroviral treatment. Many of my friends haven’t reached the age of 40 therefore I now live for them and myself, – said during the #UNFORGOTTEN event Dmytro Sherembey, Head of Coordination Council of All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. – This day we remember all our colleagues, friends, everyone who left us untimely. They are #UNFORGOTTEN, till they live in our hearts”
Ukraine still remains the leader in Europe in the rate of HIV infection. In 2016 15,245 new cases were registered. Since 1987 303,473 cases of HIV infection were registered in Ukraine. 42 732 Ukrainians died of AIDS since 1987. This is more than the entire population of town of Irpen in Kiev region But thanks to treatment today people with HIV can live and not die.
Oksana Syvak, Deputy Minister of Healthcare on European integration added: “Over the last 4 years HIV related mortality declined by 11%. Real people’s lives stand behind these numbers, one’s relatives and friends who did not die thanks to the treatment. Last year we increased state funding of the HIV/AIDS program by 133%. This will cover treatment for 101 thousand HIV-positive patients.”
In 2015 60,753 people received antiretroviral therapy (ART), and today it is taken by 79,127 people. Now 135,414 HIV-positive people are officially registered in Ukraine (excluding the Crimea). An important task for them is to come and get registered and receive timely treatment.
“The region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only one in the world where the HIV infection and deaths from AIDS continue to rise. A quarter of all deaths falls to Ukraine. We have to remember each of those who passed away because of AIDS and make treatment a priority in overcoming the epidemic”,- said Jacek Tyszko, Director of UNAIDS Ukraine
Also, in 2016 Kyiv joined the “race of capitals” in the UNAIDS Fast Track Cities strategy and set itself an ambitious goal – to become the first city in Eastern Europe, which will reach 90-90-90 targets when 90% of HIV-positive are aware of their status, 90% receive antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of patients receiving treatment have undetectable viral load.
“Over 12 500 HIV infected patients are registered in Kyiv today. 7 500 receive treatment, – adds Mykola Povoroznyk, Deputy Head of Kyiv City Administration, – “In 2016 we allocated 5 mln Hryvnas in the municipal budget to improve access of people living with HIV to medical services. This year in the frames of the municipal HIV/AIDS program for 2017-2021 we plan to allocate about 41 mln Hryvnas in the Kyiv budget. This money will allow procure medications, medical goods and improve the quality of medical services for patients”.
Olga Rudneva, Director of Olena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation believes that the most important task for all Government and Non-government organizations involved in the fight against AIDS is creating access to treatment for women and children. Because they are the ones who are very often left out of the line for social services.
“30 years ago the first drug for the treatment of HIV/AIDS was invented. More than 35 million people worldwide have died from AIDS since the first case registered. This is a population of a whole country. Each year more than one million people die from this chronic disease while the treatment is out there for 30 years already. Our goal is to do what is already available. Our goal is to stop burying people dying from a chronic disease that can be treated”, – stresses Olga Rudneva.
Also, for AIDS Memorial Day All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS launched a flash mob on Facebook with the hashtag #unforgotten and #AIDSMemorialDay2017!
The goal of this flashmob is to encourage opinion leaders, activists and partners to post memories of people who are no longer with us because of HIV/AIDS. People are urged to recall pleasant or important moments, thank, ask the deceased questions. One of the main messages – that they are #unforgotten and HIV today is not a sentence: there is treatment for it. Flashmob is joined by patients with HIV, partner organizations, famous Ukrainians.