Second National AIDS conference “For every life - Together!”

25 Oct 2013

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The State Service of Ukraine on HIV/AIDS and other Socially Dangerous Diseases, and the State institution “Ukrainian Center for Socially Dangerous Disease Control of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine” with financial and organizational support of the UN system organizations as well as from the other national and international donors and partners conducted the Second National HIV/AIDS Scientific-Practical Conference with the international participation in Kyiv, Ukraine.    

The conference was conducted with the motto: “From despair to hope!” , pronounced by Michel Sidibé – the UNAIDS Executive Director in his welcoming speech to the Conference participants. The theme was further embraced and welcomed in his welcoming speech by Mr. Raisa Bogatyryova – the Minister of Health of Ukraine. Mr. Sidibé added that Ukraine currently has a: “window of opportunity to halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic”.

There is a growing level of commitment to effective implementation of the National HIV response within Ukraine. Significant progress has been made in important areas, particularly in the fields of treatment and prevention services, such as substitution therapy for intravenous drug users.

Despite the significant achievements in the national HIV/AIDS response in Ukraine, which were welcomed by the conference participants, a growing number of challenges were also identified. These included the urgent need for a broad discussion of the issues to ensure the stability and effectiveness of the national response to the Ukraine’s HIV epidemic.

The problem of exhausting national funds (the National AIDS programme has only been funded at 36,1% of the need and is under threat of further cuts) have led to an increased interest in external resources and funding.

The implementation of the Partnership Framework between the Government of the United States of America, and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine On Cooperation in Countering HIV/AIDS, will be completed in 2015. The implementation of the Phase II of the Round 10 Program of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, finishes in 2016. Consequently from 2017 Ukraine will not have secured any foreign investments.

“The priority strategic task of our [Ministry of Health of Ukraine] cooperation with the UNAIDS, WHO and other international organizations lays in the development of the ‘transition period strategy’ – from the significant donor support to predominantly national budget funding of needs in the national response to HIV infection” – highlighted Mr. Raisa Bogatyryova, the Minister of Health of Ukraine in her presentation in the couse of the first plenary session.  

The three day conference contributed to the development of the joint approach towards; (1) priority-setting, (2) introduction and scale-up of best practices, (3) ensuring of sustainability, resilience and continuity of the programs during the transition period from the consolidated to predominantly budget funding, and (4) tackling issues of reducing costs of essential medicine, and assuring access to treatment for all those who require it.

The updated estimates of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine show that at the start of 2012, there were 230,000 people aged 15-49 living with HIV in Ukraine. This figure accounted for 0.58% of the total population in this age group. This is nearly double the official figures for the number of HIV-positive persons who are under medical surveillance in specialized health care institutions (129,136 people, at the beginning of 2013). The disparity between these figures shows that only every second person living with HIV in Ukraine was tested for the antibodies to HIV, and aware of their HIV-positive status.

Despite the significant increase in the number of patients receiving antiretroviral treatment (40,350 in 2012), the ART scale-up pace is lagging behind the growth rate of the number of persons in need of such treatment. Consequently it is not sufficient to stop the epidemic, specifically, to impact the incidence of AIDS and AIDS-related mortality rates.

Besides Ms. Raisa Bogatyryova (the Minister of Health of Ukraine), and Mr. Michel Sidibé (UNAIDS Executive Director), many guests also took part in the Second National AIDS Conference “For Every Life - Together!” including’; Ms. Alessandra Tisot (UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative), Mr. Nicolas Cantau (Regional Manger of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), Dr. Dorit Nitzan Kaluski (WHO representative to Ukraine), Mr. Paolo Belli (Country Sector Coordinator, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova from the World Bank) and many other high ranking participants.