Patients presented a formula that would stop the HIV epidemic
On December 1, World AIDS Day, activists and patients together with government and international organizations reminded Ukrainians about the importance of regular HIV testing and timely administration of antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The patients of the CO “100% Life” also presented a formula that can stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic – “We’re tested = We’re strong (thanks to ART)” (“Протестовані=загАРТовані”). They shared this formula with all participants of the action, placing it on medical masks that everyone present received.
“‘We’re tested = we’re strong’ is a life-saving formula. Today we are all in masks. They have become a clear symbol of safety and care for our health and environment. As masks are the most effective tool to prevent COVID-19, so regular testing and timely administration of antiretroviral therapy make us stronger in the fight against HIV,” said Anastasia Dieieva, Executive Director of the CO “100% Life” at the opening of the World AIDS Day.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, we were all used to wearing masks. This is the most effective prevention of COVID-19. However, we still forget that one of the best prevention of the HIV pandemic is regular testing and adherence to treatment if the immunodeficiency virus is detected. That is why the formula ‘We’re tested = we’re strong’ should stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic and become part of health culture,” said Dmytro Sherembei, Chairperson of the CO “100% Life” – the largest patient-led organization.
Today, there are 251,168 people living with HIV in Ukraine. However, one in three HIV-positive people still either do not know their HIV status or stay out of medical care and therefore do not receive treatment (ARV therapy). And only regular HIV testing makes us stronger in the fight against many negative consequences of this disease, first of all, its spread and development.
“The Ukrainian parliament has never stayed aloof from the HIV-related problem. The Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance, and Medical Insurance is currently working on improving legislation to increase patients’; access to testing, encourage the population to get self-tested, ensure equal access to basic services and medicines, and establish state guarantees for free provision of ARVs for the HIV treatment, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, and medicines for the treatment of opportunistic infections. Relevant legislative initiatives are registering in the Verkhovna Rada and, I hope, they will be supported by the parliament,” said Mykhailo Radutsky, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on Public Health, Medical Assistance, and Medical Insurance.
“We also understand how important it is to legally regulate the protection of the rights of people living with HIV and remove certain legal barriers. Relevant consultations are currently being held in the Committee and this issue is considering,” he stressed.
Although there is no HIV vaccine, it is possible to remain resistant to this disease. And testing is the first step to live a full life, dreaming about the future, starting a family, and bearing children. Even with a positive HIV status, a person can start ARV therapy, so the immunodeficiency virus will not develop in the body.
“Almost a quarter of a million Ukrainians have been diagnosed with HIV, but much more of them do not know about their status and do not receive health care. Early detection of the virus means timely medical supervision and treatment. It is impossible to completely cure it, but we have modern antiretroviral therapy, which guarantees a full and healthy life for all people living with HIV. The state buys such drugs at its own expense. You can also learn your status for free. I appeal to all Ukrainians to be careful about their health and to be tested regularly for HIV. After all, this is an indication of concern for our health and the health of those around,” said Iryna Rudenko, Head of the Directorate of Public Health and Disease Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.
At the event, participants were asked to order an oral HIV test, which can be taken on their own. This test does not require extra effort, and every Ukrainian can order it at home by mail through the organization’s website https://prozdorovia.in.ua/khochu-obstezhytys/
Similar actions took place today in all regions of Ukraine. There, activists of the regional branches of the CO “100% Life” also shared the unique formula with all participants.
Information on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine (according to the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine):
- Today, Ukraine ranks one of the first among countries in the European region in the number of HIV-positive people;
- One in three HIV-positive people still either does not know their HIV status or is out of health care and therefore does not receive treatment (ARV therapy);
- According to estimates, in Ukraine 251,168 people were living with HIV at the beginning of 2020;
- As of October 1, 2021, 129,022 HIV-positive Ukrainians receive ARV therapy (compared to 15,871 people in 2009); therapy allows people with HIV to live;
- The main route of HIV transmission remains sexual one – 71% of heterosexual and 3% of homosexual contacts (among those newly registered in 2019);
- Timely diagnosis of HIV status and initiation of treatment guarantee a long full life;
- HIV testing in Ukraine is free; you can get a quick HIV test from 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 find out where to get PrEP at https://prozdorovia.in.ua/de-projty-test/?prep