Ukraine fights spreading HIV epidemic
In this Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 file photo, a prisoner in a male prison is seen through a peephole where HIV-positive prisoners receive treatment, care and support in the town of Bucha outside Ukraine's capital Kiev. An estimated 230,000 Ukrainians, or about 0.8 percent of people aged 15 to 49 in a population of 46 million, are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Some 120,000 are in urgent need of anti-retroviral therapy, which can greatly prolong and improve the quality of their lives. But due to a lack of funds, less than a quarter are receiving the drugs, one of the lowest levels in the world. (Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
(AP)—Andrei Mandrykin, an inmate at Prison No. 85 outside Kiev, has HIV. He looks ghostly and much older than his 35 years. But Mandrykin is better off than tens of thousands of his countrymen, because is he receiving treatment amid what the World Health Organization says is the worst AIDS epidemic in Europe.
Ahead of World AIDS Day on Saturday, international organizations have urged the Ukrainian government to increase funding for treatment and do more to prevent HIV from spreading from high-risk groups into the mainstream population, where it is even harder to manage and control.
An estimated 230,000 Ukrainians, or about 0.8 percent of people aged 15 to 49, are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Some 120,000 are in urgent need of anti-retroviral therapy, which can greatly prolong and improve the quality of their lives. But due to a lack of funds, fewer than a quarter are receiving the drugs—one of the lowest levels in the world.
Ukraine's AIDS epidemic is still concentrated among high-risk groups such as intravenous drug users, sex workers, homosexuals and prisoners. But nearly half of new cases registered last year were traced to unprotected heterosexual contact.
"Slowly but surely the epidemic is moving from the most-at-risk, vulnerable population to the general population," said Nicolas Cantau of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, who manages work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. "For the moment there is not enough treatment in Ukraine."
Stigma is also a big problem for those with HIV in Ukraine. Liliya, a 65-year-old woman who would give only her first name, recently attended a class on how to tell her 9-year-old great-granddaughter that she has HIV. The girl, who contacted HIV at birth from her drug-abusing mother, has been denied a place in preschool because of her diagnosis.
"People are like wolves, they don't understand," said Liliya. "If any of the parents found out, they would eat the child alive."
While the AIDS epidemic has plateaued elsewhere in the world, it is still progressing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to Cantau. Nearly 21,200 new cases were reported in Ukraine in 2011, the highest number since the former Soviet republic registered its first case in 1987, and a 3 percent increase over 2010. As a result of limited and often delayed treatment, the number of AIDS-related deaths grew 17 percent last year to about 3,800.
In this Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 file photo, a Ukrainian woman wearing a medical mask demonstrates in front of the memorial monument to AIDS victims in Kiev, Ukraine. An estimated 230,000 Ukrainians, or about 0.8 percent of people aged 15 to 49 in a population of 46 million, are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Some 120,000 are in urgent need of anti-retroviral therapy, which can greatly prolong and improve the quality of their lives. But due to a lack of funds, less than a quarter are receiving the drugs, one of the lowest levels in the world. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)Two years ago, Mandrykin, the prisoner, was on the verge of becoming part of that statistic, with his level of crucial CD4 immune cells—a way to measure the strength of the immune system—dropping to 11. In a healthy person, the CD4 count is usually over 600.
"I was lying in the hospital, I was dying," said Mandrykin, who is serving seven years for robbery, his fourth stint in jail. "It's a scary disease."
After two years of treatment in a small prison clinic, his CD4 count has risen to 159 and he feels much better, although he looks exhausted and is still too weak to work in the workshop of the medium-security prison.
The Ukrainian government currently focuses on testing and treating standard cases among the general population. The anti-retroviral treatment of more than 1,000 inmates, as well as some 10,000 HIV patients across Ukraine who also require treatment for tuberculosis and other complications and all prevention and support activities, are paid for by foreign donors, mainly the Global Fund.
The Global Fund is committed to spending $640 million through 2016 to fight AIDS and tuberculosis in Ukraine and then hopes to hand over most of its programs to the Ukrainian government.
Advocacy groups charge that corruption and indifference by government officials help fuel the epidemic.
Ukrainian people make a red ribbon sign with candles ahead of the World AIDS Day, in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)During the past two years, Ukrainian authorities have seized vital AIDS drugs at the border due to technicalities, sent prosecutors to investigate AIDS support groups sponsored by the Global Fund and harassed patients on methadone substitution therapy, prompting the Global Fund to threaten to freeze its prevention grant.
Most recently, Ukraine's parliament gave initial approval to a bill that would impose jail terms of up to five years for any positive public depiction of homosexuality. Western organizations say it would make the work of AIDS prevention organizations that distribute condoms and teach safe homosexual sex illegal and further fuel the epidemic. It is unclear when the bill will come up for a final vote.
AIDS drug procurement is another headache, with Ukrainian health authorities greatly overpaying for AIDS drugs. Advocacy groups accuse health officials of embezzling funds by purchasing drugs at inflated prices and then pocketing kickbacks.
Officials deny those allegations, saying their tender procedures are transparent.
Much also remains to be done in Ukraine to educate people about AIDS.
Oksana Golubova, a 40-year-old former drug user, infected her daughter, now 8, with HIV and lost her first husband to AIDS. But she still has unprotected sex with her new husband, saying his health is in God's hands.
"Those who are afraid get infected," Golubova said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Ukraine urged to step up AIDS fight Jan 16, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- UN expert: AIDS crisis in the world's prisons Jul 23, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- HIV patients out of drugs, harassed in Ukraine Feb 15, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Brazil expands its anti-AIDS program Aug 29, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Facts about HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2011 Jul 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by researchers in the US has shown that an ancient virus can be modified to help in the fight against the simian immunodeficiency virus SIV, which is the equivalent in monkeys ...
HIV & AIDS May 24, 2013 | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Detection of HIV antibodies is used to diagnose HIV infection and monitor trials of experimental HIV/AIDS vaccines. New, more sensitive detection systems being developed use microspheres to capture HIV antibodies ...
HIV & AIDS May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(HealthDay)—For HIV-infected individuals with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, fecal microbiota therapy is feasible, according to a letter published in the May 21 issue of the Annals of Intern ...
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Canadian health authorities lifted Wednesday what was effectively a ban on gay men giving blood, announcing new rules making men who have not had sex with men in the past five years eligible.
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 1
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
46 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 5
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0