UNAIDS_Press_conference_201016 September 2010, Kyiv: UNAIDS in Ukraine in partnership with the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV held a press-conference dedicated to the Ukraine’s challenges and progress on the ways to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the focus on the goal related to combating the HIV epidemic.UNAIDS_Press_conference_201016 September 2010, Kyiv: UNAIDS in Ukraine in partnership with the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV held a press-conference dedicated to the Ukraine’s challenges and progress on the ways to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the focus on the goal related to combating the HIV epidemic. UNAIDS_Press_conference_201016 September 2010, Kyiv: UNAIDS in Ukraine in partnership with the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV held a press-conference dedicated to the Ukraine’s challenges and progress on the ways to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the focus on the goal related to combating the HIV epidemic.

Ukraine acceded to the globally recognized MDGs in 2000, together with other 188 State Members of the United Nations, to address the starkest inequalities in global human development, and has taken a political obligation to achieve them and their implementation targets by 2015. In preparation for the MDG Summit to be held on 20-22 September, 2010 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and the President of Ukraine’s participation together with other global leaders in assessing the progress in achieving the MDGs, the organizers Draw attention to the importance of taking AIDS out of isolation and viewing it as one of Ukraine’s development problems, with a direct link with achieving other MDGs.

Ukraine’s newly-updated MDGs – 7 goals, 15 targets and 33 indicators – provide a single and well-integrated economic development model for the country, fully reflecting on key environmental and social components. By bringing together these human, economic and environmental development indicators one can ensure social progress that fits the needs of each individual, the recently released National Report “Millennium Development Goals – Ukraine 2010” says. Overall, some positive trends on the way to achieving the MDGs have been established in Ukraine in recent years, yet the progress is uneven. The only Goal that will not be achieved by Ukraine by 2015, is Goal 6 – Reduce and slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Despite increasingly available resources for combating the HIV epidemic, the number of new HIV infections and deaths related to AIDS continues to grow in Ukraine. That occurs against the backdrop of many developing countries’ significant progress in reducing HIV infections due to strong governmental commitment, and well-coordinated, targeted and resourced efforts of many partners. “Globally new infections have fallen by 17% since 2001. In 15 most severely affected countries that experience much worse economical problems than Ukraine, HIV prevalence has fallen by more than 25%, as young people are adopting safer sexual behaviours”, said Ms. Nuzhat Ehsan, Chair of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, and UNFPA Country Director in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Within Goal 6, Ukraine achieved only target - the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It has fallen from 27% in 2000 to 6% by the end of 2009, representing a distinctive progress also in the context of Goals 4 (Reduction of child mortality) and 5 (Improvement of maternal health). Other targets will not be achieved if more rigorous efforts are not undertaken by the country.”

As the most recent global data show, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world, where HIV infections are growing. Ukraine continues to experience most severe epidemic in whole of Europe, with the estimated adult prevalence of HIV infection of 1,3% and continuously growing new HIV infections and deaths related to HIV/AIDS. Each day, an estimated 87 people get infected with HIV and 50 die of HIV/AIDS. For the first six months of 2010 in comparison with the same period of 2009, the cases of new HIV infections registered increased by 6% and the number of deaths related to HIV/AIDS increased by 30%. Such a negative trend raises deep concern among various stakeholders, especially the non-governmental sector. As Dmytro Sherembey, Director of Department for Communication, Policy and Advocacy, All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS stressed, “Today Ukraine has to choose the development of the HIV epidemic either by the African or the European scenario. The HIV epidemic has deprived the African countries of prosperous future, while the European countries have been doing utmost in order to live life to the fullest. We cannot speak about achieving MDGs by 2015, if there are more than one million HIV infected people in the country”.

There are many challenges presently faced by Ukraine to combat its HIV epidemic. “Today, the state policy on combating HIV/AIDS is clearly formed, approved at the highest legislative level as a National Program that brings together all branches of government both at the national and the regional levels, as well as civil society organizations, whose activities targeted at combating HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. The direction of the state policy on HIV/AIDS is properly defined, as evidenced by the positive results that we have today”, said Dr. Olena Yeschenko, Deputy Head of the Committee on HIV/AIDS and Other Socially Dangereous Diseases at the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. “Today, we make every effort to resolve all issues, one of the most important of which is the lack of funding for the National Program both at the national and the regional levels. This prompts us to apply for financial assistance to international donor organizations in order to ensure the adequate coverage with essential services of those populations who need it".

Dr. Anna Shakarishvili, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Ukraine underlined, “Ukraine has the right interventions in the right places but those significantly lack scale and often scope and quality. Because of that, we see only a few measurable results. Resources spent on AIDS are not just expenditures – those are smart and proven investments not only into reducing new HIV infections and deaths among those living with HIV, but also into achieving MDGs other than that for AIDS and tuberculoris. Time is working against us in Ukraine. There will be more new people getting infected with HIV and more deaths from AIDS unless political will and commitment do not get stronger and the wide resource gaps are not promptly closed”.

Investing in combating AIDS, and success in reducing AIDS deaths and new HIV infections are also helping Ukraine and the world in meeting other MDGs. In the context of Ukraine, the following linkages were clearly indicated during the press-conference:

MDG Goal 1 - Reduce poverty:

  • Providing support to families affected by AIDS is decreasing household vulnerability to poverty
  • Antiretroviral treatment keeps people healthy and fit to work, and reduces the number of children becoming orphans.
  • Stopping new HIV infections helps reduce future health and social welfare needs of families and individuals.

MDG Goal 2 - Ensure quality lifelong education:

  • Antiretroviral treatment for parents helps ensure they can continue to provide care for their children and help them attain quality education.

MDG Goal 3 - Promote gender equality:

  • HIV programmes empower women by highlighting gender inequalities and promoting gender sensitive HIV interventions.
  • Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programmes helps strengthen sexual and reproductive health programmes.
  • Promoting access to HIV prevention, treatment and support equally for women and girls, men and boys, contributes to improving health access as a whole.

MDG Goal 4 - Reduce child mortality:

  • The prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV gives children the chance to be born without HIV.
  • By providing children living with HIV access to paediatric treatment, child mortality is being reduced.

MDG Goal 5 - Improve maternal heath:

  • PMTCT stops mothers from dying and babies from becoming infected. It promotes linkages for better health during and post-pregnancy, and for broader maternal and child health services.
  • AIDS funding contributes to health systems strengthening and leads to improved maternal health services.

MDG Goal 6 - Reduce and slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS and TB:

  • HIV programmes helps strengthen TB programmes. An integrated approach to HIV and TB is necessary to achieve maximum impact.
The meeting participants stressed the relevance to Ukraine of the global call of UNAIDS for the countries to focus on ‘game changers’ – such as Treatment 2.0 (a radically simplified treatment platform), elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and intensified combination prevention – that can reshape the AIDS response in Ukraine and around the world to meet the MDGs by 2015 and other commitments.

For more information, please contact Oksana Tsarenko, Communication Officer, UNAIDS Country Office in Ukraine, tel. (044) 499 11 72 / 70, e-mail Tsarenkoo@unaids.org.