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Minister calls AIDS epidemic in Ukraine the worst in Europe and Central Asia

Of particular concern is the active spread of the epidemic through central regions relatively untouched before

During a meeting on combating HIV and AIDS, held on 14 February, the Ministry of Health Vasyl Knyazevych called the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine the most serious in countries of Europe and Central Asia. “According to estimates, at the end of 2007 approximately 440 thousand people (or 1.64 of the adult population) were living with HIV.”  The Minister said that the fact that official data is considerably lower – more than 122 thousand people infected with HIV since the epidemic suggests that only a quarter of those infected are aware of this, and demonstrates a lack of awareness of the threat the infection poses.

Vasyl Petrenko, Head of the Committee on Combating HIV / AIDS, reported that as of 1 January 2008, the official records showed over 122 thousand cases of HIV infection, with almost 22.5 thousand having developed into AIDS and 12.5 thousand AIDS-related deaths.

“In 2007 more than 17.5 thousand new cases of HIV infection were registered, this making 38.0 per 100 thousand head of population. Despite a range of measures aimed at stemming the epidemic, the rate of growth remains high. The number of new cases of HIV in 2006 had risen by 17% against 2005, and the level of growth in 2007 was 10% in comparison with the previous year.”

All regions are touched by the HIV epidemic. The highest rates of prevalence remain in the southern and eastern regions of the country.  In the Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions, the figures comes to 414.2, in the Donetsk region – 395.6, Mykolaiv region – 378.9, Sevastopol – 309.4, in the Crimea – 239.1 and in Kyiv – 194.4.

Particular concern was expressed over the active spread of the epidemic through central regions which had been relatively untouched before (the Vinnytsa, Khmelnytsky, Cherkasy, Chernihiv and Poltava regions).

Reasons given for the deterioration in the situation and the increased numbers of people with AIDS included a general lowering in the living standard; an inadequate system for raising public awareness; insufficient financing for prophylactic measures and treatment; and the inability of the present infrastructure for medical and social care to cope with the spread of the disease.

From material provided by the Ministry of Health’s Press Service

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