AIDS in Ukraine spreading faster than almost anywhere else in Europe
Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day. This day, which focuses world attention on the fight against the disease and its victims, was established by the World Health Organization in 1988. The disease has already claimed the lives of 25 million people, and around 40 million are known to be living with HIV.
Ukraine is unfortunately one of the countries in Europe and Central Asia with the fastest rising spread of HIV.
According to UNAIDS and WHO figures 90% of all cases of HIV infection in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are in Russia and Ukraine.
Since the year 2000 the number of people each year diagnosed as HIV-positive has doubled. In 2005 13,786 new cases were recorded. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Health around 97 thousand people overall in the country are living with HIV. Since this figure only includes those people who have been tested in state medical establishments, the true figure is undoubtedly higher and according to specialists estimates as of the end of 2005 was between 250 and 680 thousand.
According to Ministry of Health statistics, more than 45% of those registered as HIV-positive in the first half of 2006 were injecting drug users. The number of people living with HIV among drug addicts ranges from 10% in Sumy to 66% in Mykolaiv. The results of the annual epidemic survey showed that in Kyiv 49% of injecting drug users and 8% of sex workers were HIV positive. In other cities the prevalence of HIV among those working in the sex industry is much higher, with each fourth sex worker (25-29%) if sex workers infected in Poltava, Odessa, Lutsk and Donetsk, and each third (32%) in Mykolaiv.
The Ukrainian AIDS Centre figures show that out of 8,058 people registered as HIV-positive in the first half of 2006, 41% were women, the majority of whom were of average child-bearing age.
The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women is also among the highest in Ukraine, with this figure being 0.31% of the overall number of women pregnant in the middle of 2006, as compared with 0,002% in 1995. The highest numbers of pregnant women who are HIV-positive are in the Chernihiv, Odessa, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv regions (more than 0.8%). According to information from the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, during the first half of 2006 1,320 children were born to women with HIV.