The International Testing Week starts in Ukraine
In the last week of November, the world is tested for HIV and hepatitis. The second International HIV and Viral Hepatitis Testing Week will be held from November 22 to 28 simultaneously on five continents in more than 40 countries.
“This year, the International and European Testing Weeks are conducted simultaneously. This allows us to draw more attention to the problem of HIV and viral hepatitis epidemics. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we witness a decrease in testing. This reduces the level of HIV and viral hepatitis detection and delays access to HIV prevention and treatment services,” said Larysa Hetman, Head of the Management and HIV Control Department at the Public Health Center of the MOH of Ukraine.
“We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this year updated Standards for the diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis were adopted, and they emphasize that every citizen should be tested for viral hepatitis at least once in their life and regularly re-tested in case of risk factors for infection,” said Iryna Ivanchuk, Head of the Viral Hepatitis and Opioid Dependence Department at the Public Health Center of the MOH of Ukraine.
It is estimated that about one million people in Ukraine do not know they have hepatitis C. One in three HIV-positive Ukrainians does not know their status.
“It’s sad to realize this, especially when we understand that these diseases are controllable. Hepatitis is curable in more than 90% of cases. HIV is a chronic disease, and through treatment, you can live without losing the quality of your life. I can say this as a person who has overcome hepatitis and controls HIV,” said Dmytro Sherembei, Head of the CO “100% Life”. “Timely testing is vital to start treatment and stop the transmission of the disease.”
HIV and hepatitis testing are affordable in Ukraine. You can receive a quick test for viral hepatitis and HIV for free from your family doctor. You can also use the rapid testing option at public organizations.
The largest patient-led organization, the CO “100% Life”, together with the Public Health Center, has developed a map of hepatitis testing sites (link). Free HIV and hepatitis testing are available at these healthcare facilities.
You can also order an oral HIV test at home. You can be screened, i.e. determine your own risks of HIV infection, and order a free oral HIV test using the “I want to be examined” option on the website prozdorovia.in.ua
“The new Global AIDS Strategy ‘End Inequality, End AIDS’ raises the level of HIV testing. By 2025, 95% of people living with HIV should know their status to start life-saving treatment in time. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we regretfully note that the number of HIV tests in 2020 fell by 22% compared to the previous year. That is why we support all activities aimed at raising awareness and creating additional opportunities for HIV diagnosis,” said Roman Hailevych, UNAIDS Director in Ukraine.
People living with HIV, who receive antiretroviral therapy, live long lives. HIV treatment is lifelong – it is free for patients and guaranteed by the state.
The International Testing Week will last from November 22 to 28. You can learn more about activities in other countries on the website of the international coalition fighting AIDS and hepatitis.
International HIV and Hepatitis Testing Week was launched by Coalition PLUS, a coalition of community-based organizations fighting HIV and viral hepatitis around the world.
Coalition PLUS is the largest Francophone Coalition, operating in about 50 countries and uniting about 100 organizations. The largest patient-led organization in Ukraine, the CO “100% Life”, joined the Coalition PLUS in 2020 and became the provider of the International Testing Week in Ukraine.