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definition - HIV/AIDS_in_Ukraine

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HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

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Ukraine has one of the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world.[1][2][3][4][5] About 0.96 percent of Ukrainians, or about 440,000 citizens, were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2007[6], up from 1.46 percent of the population in 2005, or 685,600 citizens, according to UNAIDS.[5] The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Ukraine reduced by 200 or 3.9% to 4,900 in the period of January-November 2008, compared with the corresponding period of last year. Ukraine has one of the highest rates of increase of HIV/AIDS cases in Eastern Europe.[7]

Identified in the country in 1987, HIV/AIDS appeared to be confined to a small population of foreign students until the mid-1990s, when a sudden and explosive epidemic emerged among injecting drug users in the southern and eastern regions of the country.

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.[8]


Spread of AIDS

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.

Registered HIV prevalence in Ukraine (late 2007)

UNAIDS estimates that the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in 2003 was 360,000 (range 180,000 to 590,000), representing an adult prevalence of 1.4%. According to the Ministry of Health—which estimates that by 2002 there were more than 500,000 people infected, or nearly 2% of the adult population—the epidemic has now spread to every oblast in the country. Prevalence in the southern and eastern oblasts (Odessa, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Donetsk) is about three times higher than rates in the rest of the country.[8] A major reason for this is the fact that the urbanized and industrialized regions in the East and South of Ukraine suffered most from the economic crisis in the 90s, which in turn led to the spread of unemployment, alcoholism, and drug abuse, thus setting the conditions for wider spread of the epidemic.[9]

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.[8]

Spread of AIDS among children

Number of HIV infected women and children (late 2007)

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 2007, which was the highest index in Europe. According to the United Nations, of 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. In Ukraine 1,877 children have been confirmed as HIV positive and 244 have died of AIDS. The United Nations notes that the program of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ukraine has cut the share of such transmission from 27% of the number of HIV cases in 2000 to 7% in 2006.[7]

National response

The policy and legal environment in Ukraine is generally favorable for combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, but there is a gap between national-level policies and laws and local-level practices. The National AIDS Committee was established in 1992 but was dissolved in 1998 because of budget disputes. 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.[8]

Although the HIV/AIDS law is one of the most progressive in the region, the government still treats HIV/AIDS primarily as a medical issue. Prevention activities have been largely funded by international organizations. Because HIV testing is limited to government facilities, those at greatest risk are not being reached, since marginalized populations are the least likely to use government facilities. Stigma by the medical profession against persons living with HIV/AIDS is a major barrier to accessing information and services.[8]


Note: all statistics till late 2007.


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