Happy New Year 2020!

Soon we will be saying goodbye to 2019. Let all the good things that happened to us this year be sure to pass in the future, and all the difficulties and conflicts will remain in the past. 

We wish you peace, joy and prosperity next year. Health, love, family comfort and happiness to every family and every person!

HIV control in the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The person planning to go into military service must be healthy and serviceable. Therefore, it is not surprising that a person with a positive HIV status cannot be accepted into the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But we propose to focus more on this subject.

According to the Decree of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine from August 14, 2008 No. 402 “On Approval of the Regulation abought Military Medical Expertise in the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, when applying for military service (fixed-term or contracted), candidates for military service are compulsory HIV testing. Persons with HIV disease when drafted are recognized as unfit for military service.

It should be noted that servicemen (except for conscript service) whose HIV infection was acquired during military service may continue their service with the decision of the Military Medical Commission if recognized as eligible. 

Also, servicemen who became infected during the service and were deemed unfit for military service by military medical commissions were given the opportunity to continue their service in certain positions determined by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

Although HIV is a primary concern, candidates for military service are also screened for markers of viral hepatitis B, C and syphilis. Candidates are examined at the laboratory centers at the place of residence and at the blood service centers, where, according to the “Procedure of medical examination of blood donors and (or) its components”, approved by the order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine №385 of 01.08.2005, the examination is obligatory donor blood taken by indicators such as: markers of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis, which makes it impossible to use infected blood.

Why does discrimination and human rights abuse of people with a positive HIV status only provoke the spread of the HIV-infection?

HIV-positive myths continue to exist in society that promote discriminatory treatment of people with a positive status. The reason of this is poor awareness, fear, distortion of facts and so on. However, it is important to note that any human rights violation with a positive HIV status leads to a worsening of the overall epidemic situation.

The manual of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for HIV / AIDS parliamentarians, legislation and human rights noted: Lack of respect for human rights promotes and exacerbates the effects of this disease. At the same time, HIV is undermining progress in the realization of human rights. This link is manifested in the disproportionate incidence and spread of the disease among key at-risk populations, and in particular those living in poverty. This is also reflected in the fact that the low burden of low- and middle-income countries is the predominant burden of the epidemic. AIDS and poverty today are mutually reinforcing in many of these countries.

Human rights have a direct bearing on the fight against HIV in three key areas.

First, the lack of human rights protection creates vulnerability to HIV, especially among vulnerable sections of the population, such as women, children and youth; sex workers; drug users; migrants; men having sex with men (MSM); transgender people, as well as prisoners.

These groups are more vulnerable to HIV because they are unable to exercise their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. For example, people who are deprived of their right to freedom of association and access to information may be denied the opportunity to discuss HIV issues, participate in AIDS service activities of self-help organizations and self-help groups, and participate in other prevention activities protect yourself from HIV infection. Women, and especially young women, are more vulnerable to infection if they do not have access to the information, education and services needed to ensure sexual and reproductive health and prevention. People living in poverty often do not have access to the prevention and treatment of HIV, including antiretroviral drugs.

Second, the lack of human rights protection fosters stigma, discrimination and violence against people living with HIV. These perceptions are rooted in the misunderstanding of HIV, ways of transmitting HIV, and the "fears and prejudices surrounding sex, blood, disease, and death, as well as the understanding that HIV is associated with" deviant "or" immoral "behavior. like sex outside marriage, sex between men and drug use. "

The rights of people living with HIV are often violated because of their predicted or positive HIV status, causing them to suffer as a result of both the severity of the disease and the violation of their rights. Stigma and discrimination can interfere with their access to treatment and may affect their work, housing and other rights. This, in turn, contributes to the vulnerability of other infections because HIV-related stigma and discrimination prevents people with HIV and AIDS from receiving medical and social services. Therefore, those who are most in need of information, counseling and counseling do not benefit from this, even if such services are provided.

Thirdly, the lack of human rights protection impedes effective national measures to combat HIV. Discriminatory, coercive and punitive approaches increase the vulnerability to HIV infection and increase the impact of the epidemic on individuals, families, communities and countries.

Examples include:

  • Ideologically motivated restrictions on information on HIV prevention, including safe sex and condom use;
  • Criminalization of high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers;
  • Criminalization of HIV transmission;
  • HIV testing without informed consent;
  • Limited access to harm reduction measures, such as needle and syringe exchange and opioid replacement therapy;
  • Limited access to opioids for palliative care;
  • Immigration restrictions on HIV entry, stay and place of residence.

These measures keep people from address HIV services and limit organizations ability to access vulnerable and at-risk populations. Therefore, human rights are necessary to achieve universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment and care services; to meet the rights and needs of the most vulnerable and vulnerable populations, and to provide voluntary, informed and evidence-based strategies, programs and practices.

The International HIV / AIDS and Tuberculosis Institute is doing everything it can to help prevent the spread of infection in East

For five years, part of Ukraine has been in a state of armed conflict.  Military personnel and civilians are killed, buildings are destroyed, the transport system is damaged, and the communication system is broken.

In turn, the health care system has suffered considerable damage due to the conflict in the East. As a result of the conflict, rural medical facilities in the government-controlled territory were isolated from large medical centers located in urban areas outside the government-controlled territory. The high level of danger and limited access to specialized healthcare facilities and pharmacies have undermined the ability of the healthcare system to meet both new and existing health care needs, especially the needs of people living in rural areas.

More than 5.2 million people have been directly affected by the effects of the conflict, 3.2 million live within 20 km of the demarcation line, and an estimated 1.37 million are registered as IDPs. Between January 1 and June 30, 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 91 civilian casualties in the conflict: 13 people were killed and 78 injured. The issues of protection and access to health care are of particular concern, as 30% of victims are elderly (60 years of age and older) and 60% are women and children.

According to HelpAgeInternational, 97% of people have at least one chronic illness and more than half (53%) need assistive devices. The vast majority (96%) reported having a mental health problem caused by the conflict. More than 240,000 children living near the demarcation line are regularly exposed to fire and land mines and unexploded ordnance. As a result of conflict, stress, lack of access to adequate food and medical services, children and their families are at greater risk of developing health problems - from trauma to infectious diseases.

With the onset of the armed conflict, there has been a surge in the spread of HIV. There was a sharp threat of uncontrolled expansion of the geography of the disease. In order to improve the situation of combating HIV infection and other socially dangerous infectious diseases among the servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the International Institute for HIV / AIDS and Tuberculosis has decided to introduce new and strengthen the already introduced infection programs

Cooperation with Preventive Medicine Service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has been fruitful. Improving the quality and effectiveness of testing and counseling in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and improving the knowledge of medical personnel of the Ministry of Defense Healthcare institutions in implementing program interventions using HIV / AIDS testing and counseling were a priority task from 2016 to 2019.

Thus, in 2017, with the support of the DHAPP PEPFAR project, 60,000 units of immunochromatic one-stage tests were tested for early diagnosis of HIV / AIDS among military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. HIV and 25,000 different types of sanitary and educational typographic materials for health care facilities within the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

In 2019, charity assistance in the form of 15,000 rapid immunochromatographic tests, in a convenient one-step test format, was provided to qualitatively identify markers of hepatitis C and B, HIV infection and syphilis in whole blood, serum or human plasma.

In September 2019, the Immunological Analyzer “Architect i1000 SR” was purchased by the International HIV / AIDS and Tuberculosis Institute. This equipment allows HIV testing of about 100 blood samples per week, and can be increased several times if necessary

In addition, to increase awareness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel and to increase adherence to healthy lifestyles, a number of unified QR codes, which have been implemented to facilitate access to health education and disease prevention.

Also, with the financial support of the International Institute for HIV / AIDS and Tuberculosis, from 2016 to 2019, were conducted professional trainings and scientific conferences on HIV / AIDS prevention and other transmissible infections  for medical specialists, which significantly increased continuity of services provided to military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in departmental health care institutions.

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