150,000 patients living with HIV/AIDS have been saved for 20 years
Due to access to continuous treatment and ARV therapy, altogether 150,000 patients living with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis have been saved over the last 20 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. While AIDS claimed 53,547 lives from 1987 to 2020, on the World Remembrance Day of AIDS Victims the activists of the largest patient-led organization “100% Life” want to focus on the statistics related to those who are alive but not dead. Today, together with partners and HIV patients, they held a traditional action near the Red Ribbon Memorial in Kyiv.
“‘100% Life’ has been fighting for continuous treatment for 20 years – ARV therapy for a quarter of a million Ukrainians with HIV. For this reason, we unite international donors, partners, and Government. Despite the fact that Ukraine still ranks one of the first in Europe in the number of HIV-positive people, the death rate is declining. Therefore, our goal is to do everything in order not to lose people. Now there is actually an ‘epidemic within an epidemic’. During COVID-19, people living with HIV are more vulnerable. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure access to vaccination and uninterrupted access to ARV therapy,” highlighted Dmytro Sherembei, Chairperson of the Coordination Council of the CO “100% Life”.
Today, Ukraine is suffering from the COVID-19 epidemic, during which people living with HIV become the most vulnerable. To protect PLHIV from another pandemic, patients with HIV need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and improve the ARV regimen. After all, not everyone can get to the AIDS centers and receive therapy in time because of lockdown. Therefore, according to activists of the NGO “100% Life”, it is important for HIV patients to receive ARV therapy for a maximum length of time to reduce the number of contacts and the need to come for therapy more often.
For the twenty years of the fight against the HIV epidemic, Ukraine has taken significant steps to protect and support HIV-positive patients: affordable medicines and services enable people living with HIV to live a 100 percent life. In times of a double epidemic (HIV and COVID-19), activists call on all partners to work together to preserve the achievements and services of the PLHIV community.
“The state has undertaken obligations to provide treatment to patients with HIV,” said Viktor Liashko, Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine. “In Ukraine, there are modern protocols for HIV treatment and in case of a positive test, the patient can immediately rely on access to ARV therapy. The treatment is affordable and free in Ukraine. Thanks to the rollout of healthcare reform, primary care physicians can also provide support for HIV treatment.”
“Over the past 40 years, HIV has left a heavy mark on human history. In 2019 alone, almost 700,000 people died of AIDS. Today we know for sure that this mortality can be prevented. This year, the United Nations Joint Program has adopted a new global strategy that will implement the vision of 0 deaths from AIDS by 2030. I want to emphasize that Ukraine has all the components to make this ambitious vision a reality in this decade, “said Roman Hailevich, UNAIDS Director in Ukraine
“Since 2003, the US Government has invested more than $ 300 million in the fight against the HIV / AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. This is an example of an incredible partnership under the PEPFAR program. The US Government is also assisting Ukraine in implementing health care reform. On behalf of the US Government, I would like to reaffirm our support to the fight against the HIV epidemic in Ukraine, to health care reform and implementation of innovative approaches,” said Ben Zinner, Director of USAID Health Office in Ukraine
According to estimates, at the beginning of 2020, there were 251,168 people living with HIV in Ukraine. As of January 1, 2020, altogether 136,105 HIV-positive Ukrainians are receiving ARV therapy (while in 2009 – 15,871 people). Therapy allows people with HIV to live, subject to continuous use of medicines. Therefore, it is extremely important for people living with HIV not to take even a one-day break in using medicines. Lockdown and limited access to healthcare facilities, where ARV therapy is available, pose a direct threat to HIV patients.
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Speakers of the event:
– Dmytro Sherembei, Chairperson of the Coordination Council of the CO “100% Life”
– Viktor Liashko, Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine
– Roman Gailevich, UNAIDS Director in Ukraine
– Ben Zinner, Director of USAID Health Office in Ukraine
– Roman Rodyna, Director General of the Public Health Center of the MOH of Ukraine
– Olha Rudneva, Director of the Elena Pinchuk Foundation
Statistics for 2021 related to World Remembrance Day
Information on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine (according to the Public Health Center of the MOH of Ukraine):
- Today, Ukraine ranks among the first countries in the European region in terms of the number of HIV-positive people.
- One in three HIV-positive people still does not know his/her HIV status or stays outside of health care and therefore does not receive treatment (ARV therapy).
- In 2019, altogether 2,977 people died of AIDS, which is 14% less than in 2018. (The results of the epidemic modeling also indicate that mortalities from AIDS rapidly decline in Ukraine following the expansion of access to ART in 2013 and the introduction in 2016 of the WHO guidelines on providing ART to all people living with HIV with any CD4 lymphocyte count (“Test and START”).
- The cumulative number of people who died of AIDS was 53,547 (1987-2020). (A number of deaths in the last 10 years [2010-2019] were 33,650).
- The main mode of HIV transmission remains sexual one – 71% through heterosexual contact, 3% through homosexual contact (among those first registered in 2019).
- Timely diagnosis of HIV status and initiation of treatment guarantee long and full life.
- HIV testing in Ukraine is free. You can be tested using a rapid HIV test with the support of your family doctor.
- You can order an oral HIV test at home for free or find the nearest testing point by using the “I want to be examined” option on the website https://prozdorovia.in.ua/khochu-obstezhytys/
- You can read about the change in attitudes towards HIV-positive Ukrainians in the Stigma Index 2020.