Kyiv, 29 November 2019 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine is holding the National Judges’ Platform on HIV, TB and Health Rights in Kyiv today, aiming to support a new generation of legal experts on human rights, and resolving the systemic challenges faced by HIV and tuberculosis (TB) patients.
Even though HIV cases are decreasing globally, Ukraine continues to experience an increase in HIV incidence, especially among key populations at higher risk of HIV. According to the latest state data, 240,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV in Ukraine, of whom over 40% are unaware of their HIV status.
Ukraine is also fourth in the world in the incidence of multi-drug-resistant TB, and TB is the main cause of death among people living with HIV (51 percent).
Those Ukrainians who live with HIV and TB still face stigma, discrimination, and violations of human rights.
“The theme of this year World AIDS Day, which is marked on 1 December, is that communities make a difference,” said UNAIDS Director in Ukraine Raman Hailevich.
“We also see judges as a very important professional community, one that plays a pivotal role de facto – not just nominal, as codified in the law – in the protection of the rights of people, and this makes a huge difference in our joint fight to end AIDS.”
UNDP in Ukraine continues to facilitate a dialogue among members of the judiciary, who are key players in reducing the further spread of HIV and creating a supportive legal environment for both people living with HIV/TB and key populations at risk.
“UNDP is committed to further strengthening rule of law and advancing human rights, ensuring that no one is left behind. While Ukraine is making progress in responding to the HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics, this is still an unfinished agenda,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine Dafina Gercheva.
“Concerted and decisive efforts are required to achieve equal access to healthcare services for all. We will continue promoting and protecting human rights through raising judges’ awareness and preventing discrimination against key populations in court decisions,” she said.
In November 2018, UNDP launched the first national judge platform on HIV, tuberculosis and human rights in Ukraine, which saw the first open discussion of the role of judges in reducing the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and TB in Ukraine. Continuing this practice, in October 2019 the first Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Judges’ Forum on HIV, Human Rights, and the Law was organized in Moldova.
“Having learned about the platform, more and more of my colleagues from different regions of Ukraine want to join it, because we understand the importance of this initiative, which is to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable groups in order to stop the HIV and TB epidemics and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Olena Volkova, a judge at the South Ukrainian City Court of Mykolaiv Oblast.
UNDP plans to continue promoting the HIV, TB and health rights platform for judges next year, to increase their awareness and prevent discrimination against key populations in court rulings.
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