HIV/AIDS IN UKRAINE

Pavlicheva S.V.; Anyanwu Uchechukwu, student of 6th course

Sumy State University, Department of hygiene, ecology and social medicine

 

Ukraine has one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. Experts estimated in August 2010 that 1.3 percent of the adult population of Ukraine was infected with HIV, the highest in all of Europe. Although HIV/AIDS has to date remained concentrated among marginalized and vulnerable populations, it may be spreading to the general population. The majority of those infected are under 30 years of age; a full 25% of those affected are still in their teens. In the mid-1990s, transmission was primarily through injecting drug use. By 2001, however, the proportion of new cases of HIV/AIDS attributable to injecting drug use had declined to 57% from 84% in 1997. During that time, heterosexual transmission increased from 11% to 27%, and perinatal transmission increased from 2% to 13% as a proportion of total cases. Prevalence in the southern and eastern regions (Odessa, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk) is about three times higher than rates in the rest of the country. Among the issues driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic are high levels of migration and transactional sex; widespread stigma and discrimination (which prevent injecting drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other marginalized people from seeking and receiving prevention and treatment interventions); inadequate health and other social services; rising rates of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, and substance abuse; and a general lack of information about the kinds of risky behaviors that contribute to HIV/AIDS. According to the Ministry of Health, Ukraine has already surpassed the “optimistic” projections of an HIV/AIDS rate of 2% in 2010. The fast spread of drug use among adolescents is to be seen in the context of the far older population alcoholism. Today alcoholism is one of the largest health risks, especially for men in the former Soviet Union. Adolescents whose parents drink tend particularly to use drugs. Further important factors for the spread of HIV in Ukraine are the prisons and penal colonies. About 26 percent in various prisons across Ukraine tested HIV-positive. A very high percentage of the prison populations of Ukraine are drug addicts. The spread of HIV through sexual intercourse is steadily increasing. Of those 122,674 people who have been registered HIV positive in Ukraine in 2009, 40 percent have been infected by injecting drugs and 38 percent due to sexual intercourse. The most important interface between the drug milieu and the rest of society is the sector of prostitution. In 2007, 3,430 HIV positive mothers gave birth in Ukraine, the number increased. The treatment of these women with HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) decreased the risk of transmission of the virus from the mother to the child by 92.5 percent. Children and teenagers who live on the street are very likely to be infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases like tuberculosis. The number of children with AIDS in Ukraine is on rise, since the number of mothers with HIV grows by 20-30% annually. According to the United Nations, the number of pregnant women with HIV was 0.34% in 2009, which was the highest index in Europe. Nearly 18,000 children born by HIV-positive mothers in Ukraine, 10,200 children have not contracted HIV and another 5,500 children under eighteen months have yet to receive final results of examination.

One must take into account that the main causes of the HIV epidemic in Ukraine are embedded in the country's social crisis. A great influence in containing an epidemic is the availability of harm-reduction-programs. Programs for handing out sterilized needles are of greatest importance. Since 2003, drug substitution programs have been introduced in Ukraine. In 1999, the government created the National AIDS Control Coordinating Council under the Cabinet and mandated that all regions establish HIV prevention programs. In 2001, a national plan for combating HIV/AIDS was approved; its goals included preventing the further spread of HIV, developing capacity to treat infected individuals, and providing social support and counseling for those living with HIV/AIDS. The first Ukrainian advocates group for Ukrainian aids patients was launched on December 10, 2010.