HIV in Ukraine: Achievements, challenges and a new action plan

September 20, 2022
HIV testing in a shelter in Kryvyi Rih. Credit: All-Ukrainian network of PLHIV

It has been nearly seven months since the start of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine, with thousands of military and civilian victims who have lost their lives and homes and suffered from violence and gross human rights abuses. Millions of Ukrainians have been internally displaced or have fled abroad searching for a safe place. Due to a shift in state priorities to military needs and a severe economic and humanitarian crisis, the HIV epidemic response in Ukraine has faced significant challenges that put at risk its sustainability and the progress made in previous years. 

In response, 83 representatives of NGOs, community organizations, Ukrainian government, donors and international organizations have developed a joint resolution detailing achievements, challenges, success factors and an action plan during a Public Initiatives Forum. The forum was organized by the Pact-led, USAID-funded Community Action for HIV Control project to discuss civil society’s response to HIV challenges related to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

Here are some key points of the resolution: 

  • The response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine is implemented in the context of war, humanitarian disaster, deep socio-economic crisis and instability, high unemployment, worsening criminogenic situation and acute state budget deficit.  
  • Despite the challenges, most patients in the country were ensured of continuity in ART and medication-assisted treatment. А stock of medications has been created and is being distributed to patients for a longer period even in hard-to-reach localities, including temporarily occupied territories. 
  • The number of clients reached has not decreased. The many years of experience of local NGOs and community organizations in addressing the needs of people in difficult circumstances, well-organized partnerships, overall cohesion and a high level of motivation made it possible to provide HIV services.
  • Government collaboration with Ukrainian and international partners, along with support from NGOs, donors and volunteers is a cornerstone of the country's success.

The resolution also includes recommendations to partners and technical agencies. An action plan for the next year was also developed for national and regional levels, NGOs and community organizations.