UNDP Brings Together Civil Society Actors and People Living with and Affected by HIV

19 Jun 2013

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Civil society members, legal aid service providers and human rights lawyers collaborate to improve legal literacy and access to legal services

Kyiv, 17-18 June – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and its regional and national partners — the NGO of Human Rights Defenders “Gidnist” and the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV, with support of the Eurasian Union of People living with HIV (ECUO) conducted a capacity building training for people living with and affected by HIV in Kyiv, Ukraine. The training was organized within the framework of regional project HIV, Rights and Universal Access in Eastern Europe co-funded by the European Union.

In September 2012, a two-day National Stakeholder Meeting including government and non-governmental actors and international experts was convened in Kyiv, Ukraine to discuss the linkages between HIV and the law and led to the development of an Action Plan with recommendations on how to strengthen the national HIV response. The meeting co-convened by Ukrainian partners working with and providing key services to people living with HIV – the NGO of Human Rights Defenders “Gidnist”, the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV, and very importantly the Ukrainian Ministry of Health (the State Service of Ukraine on HIV/AIDS and other Socially Dangerous Diseases) laid the ground for organization of this legal awareness capacity building training.

“We welcomed this training as it has equipped us (civil society representatives working on HIV prevention, treatment and care services) with practical knowledge and strengthened our capacities to better use the law to protect our rights and prevent further stigma and discrimination” said Mr. Igor Kuzmenko, Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs.

The training in Kyiv focused on increasing the opportunities for the community to use the law in protecting, upholding and fulfilling their rights, improving legal literacy and improving access to legal services by strengthened awareness of HIV-related laws, policies and regulations. Practical sessions addressed issues related to how to officially register complaints and where to access quality legal services for human rights infringements of key populations at higher risk to HIV. The two-day event brought together key nationally-recognized experts on legislation, rights, health and legal aid complemented by the experience and expertise of international experts.

“Stigma and discrimination remains the daily reality for key populations at higher risk to HIV in Ukraine. Information, knowledge and skills to better use the law to protect their rights is key to avoiding further human rights violations and creating strategic partnerships with the government to strengthen the HIV response in Ukraine” said Sergey Polyuk, Sector Manager, Welfare and Health Care Sectors, European Union Delegation to Ukraine.

Together with the Russian Federation, Ukraine is experiencing one of the most severe HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to State statistics, 229,037 HIV infections were officially registered from 1987 through March 2013 and nearly 25,000 Ukrainians have died from AIDS-related causes. The number of new HIV cases in Ukraine remains on the rise. In 2011, there were 21,177 officially registered new infections (46.2 per 100,000 people), which is the most since the time HIV surveillance was introduced in 1987. In the 2012, the State Service of Ukraine on HIV and other socially dangerous diseases reported a slight decrease of 20,743 new registered infections.

Ukraine has however demonstrated a growing level of commitment to effective implementation of the National HIV response by significantly increasing government spending for HIV programming. Ukraine has achieved important progress in its national response to the epidemic, particularly in the fields of treatment and prevention services including substitution therapy for injecting drug users.

On the other hand, gaps in the response to HIV still persist in Ukraine. Access to anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) has been low compared to the dynamics of the epidemic with only 27,542 people on treatment in 2012, as per data of the 2012 UNGASS Report. At the same time, prices of ARV medicines in Ukraine have increased significantly, putting additional financial constraint on the state budget which is likely to grow, due to decreasing international funding and the rising number of people who will need these life-saving therapies. The meaningful inclusion of key populations such as iДляnjecting drug users and their sex partners, sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men, transgender people and inmates at prisons in the national AIDS response remains problematic. In addition, punitive practices continue to take place, blocking effective responses in many settings with recent negative trends in legislation including discussions to adopt homophobic law which would lead to further discrimination.

For more information please contact:

Christoph Hamelmann, Regional Practice Leader – HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre ( christoph.hamelmann@undp.org), +421 259 337 424

Boyan Konstantinov, Regional Programme Specialist – HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre (boyan.konstantinov@undp.org), +421 259 337 450

Katerina Rybalchenko, Senior Programme Manager UNDP Ukraine ( katerina.rybalchenko@undp.org), +380 44 253 93 63

Vladimir Gordeiko, Project Manager UNDP Ukraine ( Vladimir.gordeiko@undp.org), +38 044 584 34 77