The International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine (Alliance-Ukraine) and the Alliance secretariat in Brighton recently completed implementation of the five-year programme, supported by a $98 million Round 1 grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
“We managed to reduce AIDS morbidity growth rates by three times (from 24.7% in 2004 to 7.3% in 2008),” said Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of Alliance-Ukraine. “The AIDS mortality growth rates fell from 38.1% to 8.2% over the same period.”
The results of the ‘Overcoming HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine’ programme were delivered by representatives of the Global Fund, Alliance-Ukraine and the Ministry of Health.
“During the years of programme implementation, antiretroviral therapy was scaled up by 42 times: from 250 people in 2004 to 10,629 by the beginning of 2009,” said Olena Yeschenko, Deputy Head of the committee to fight HIV/AIDS and other socially hazardous diseases. "The government adheres to its obligations to continue treatment for those patients who received it with the Global Fund’s support."
Last December the government officially accepted responsibility for 6,070 people receiving antiretroviral therapy previously supported by Alliance Ukraine.
The programme also helped 9,875 HIV positive pregnant women to receive medical treatment to protect their babies, lowering the newborn infection rate to 7%. Methadone substitution therapy was rolled out in Ukraine in May 2008, helping to prevent HIV transmission among injecting drug users. Over 2,700 people in 26 regions will continue to receive Global Fund supported methadone treatment.
In the financial and economic crisis the public has become more concerned about donors cutting support for charitable organisations, and about the future of financial support for Ukraine. The press conference panel agreed that after completion of the programme the issue of insufficient government funding is still unresolved. Although support for fighting AIDS is budgeted in the National Programme for 2009–2013, concrete mechanisms have yet to be worked out.
"Significant results were achieved through the joint efforts of governmental bodies and non-governmental organisations, but we need to move on,” concluded Olena Yeschenko. "Ukraine still has the highest HIV prevalence in Europe."