HIV/AIDS in Ukraine
HIV/AIDS is a crisis in Ukraine. The World Health Organization estimates that about 360,000 individuals in Ukraine are infected with HIV and AIDS including up to 20,000 children and 190,000 women. A large percentage of these people are young adults and over the next ten years as these young people become ill with AIDS and TB, it will be a tremendous stress on an already strained healthcare system. Furthermore, as this population moves into peak reproductive years, the potential for vertical transmission to children will increase and the need for prevention and treatment of HIV in children will also increase. In conjunction with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burden of TB is very high in Ukraine. Ukraine is listed among the top countries in the world for incidence of tuberculosis with high rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR).
Prevention and Treatment
The biomedical tools available to fight HIV and AIDS are outstanding. Antiretroviral therapy, which has been available in Ukraine since 2005, has dramatically decreased death rates and complicating infections. Antiretroviral therapy has also decreased the rate of tuberculosis among individuals with HIV. Treatment and prevention of opportunistic infections, which occur with high frequency in HIV and AIDS, is enormously effective. There are a number of Centers in Ukraine that focus on HIV and AIDS among children. Of particular note is the Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, which has been noted for its ability to provide state-of-the-art care for children with HIV. However, significant challenges remain to provide excellent TB care and HIV and AIDS care in other regions of Ukraine: less than 25% of people who have HIV and qualify for treatment are actually on antiretroviral treatment, leaving a tremendous gap in needed antiretroviral medicine coverage. These people are at high risk of becoming ill, many with tuberculosis which poses a health risk to everyone. We are collaborating with the ANTIAIDS foundation to help women and children with HIV to gain access to medicines and lifesaving support as they battle for their health.