HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Ukraine has the most severe HIV epidemic in the whole Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an estimated 344,000 people living with HIV aged 15-49 as of the end of 2005 or an estimated adult prevalence of 1.46%. A relatively small proportion of people living with HIV in Ukraine actually know their HIV status. As of the end of June 2007, more than 76,000 people were diagnosed as living with HIV and were under clinical observation in the network of regional AIDS centres throughout the country.
The epidemic in Ukraine is still classified by UNAIDS and WHO as concentrated. The prevalence of HIV infection has consistently exceeded 5% among various sub-populations. For example, HIV prevalence among injection drug users ranges between 9.6 and 66.4% depending upon the region, and for female sex workers HIV prevalence varying from 8 to 32 %. Approximately 9-19% of men who have sex with men are believed to have HIV. In pregnant women in urban areas, less than 1% are HIV positive.
Although prevention programs have been greatly enhanced by the current Global Fund grant to Ukraine, a record of 16,078 new HIV cases were reported in 2006. Among newly reported cases in 2006, those infected through injection drug use remained the largest group, accounting for 45.3% of the total. Heterosexual transmission accounted for 35.4%, and children born with HIV accounted for 16.4%. The most affected age group is 25-49 (63.8% of all new cases in 2006).
The epidemic is rapidly spreading beyond the ten regions in southern and eastern Ukraine where over two-thirds of all HIV cases have been reported to date. There is a growing risk that the epidemic will further spread in these and other regions unless more comprehensive prevention efforts are introduced on a wider-scale.
Among all of the countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Ukraine most vividly illustrates the speed with which the epidemic is moving beyond populations most at-risk and into the general population. Among the newly reported cases in 2006, 42% were women, most of them in their peak reproductive years. The proportion of males is dominant among HIV-positive injecting drug users (79% in 2005), whereas the majority of reported cases of HIV through heterosexual transmission are among females (65.9% in 2005). As a result, the number of children born to HIV-positive mothers continues to rise, reaching a record of 2822 by the end of 2006.
As of the end of 2006, a total of 7175 patients living with AIDS were under clinical observation, more than 5000 of whom receiving anti-retroviral treatment. Almost 10 thousand people have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic with tuberculosis as a leading cause of death among AIDS patients, accounting for 53% of all AIDS-related deaths in 2006.
HIV attacks specific types of cells in the immune system (CD4-cells) that protect a body from many kinds of infections. Over time, and in the absence of effective treatment, the immune system weakens to the point that it can no longer ward off debilitating or potentially fatal illnesses. The individual subsequently develops a clinical condition known as AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the term used to refer to the many diseases that can develop in an individual whose immune system has been weakened by HIV.
The virus can be transmitted only by certain human body fluids: blood (the highest amount of virus), sperm, vaginal secretions, breast milk.
Situation involving NO risk of HIV transmission:
- coughing and sneezing;
- dishes and cutlery (even if sharing plates or cups), towels, showers and bathtubs, toilet seats, or clothes and other tools and appliances in public use;
- eating food cooked by an HIV-positive person;
- handshaking and other touching, hugs or kisses;
- contact with sweat or tears;
- insect bites (mosquitoes flies, bed bugs, etc.);
Relevant prevention strategies:
- Blood-to-blood transmission:
-using a new and clean needle and/or syringe for injecting every time
-sterilizing tools for tattooing/piercing/injections.
- Sexual transmission (“ABC” approach):
-being faithful to and practicing mutual monogamy with an uninfected partner
- condom use (consistently and correctly).
- From a mother to her baby in the course of pregnancy, delivery and breast- feeding:
-providing antiretroviral (ARV) medicines to the mother during pregnancy
-caesarean section delivery
-artificial feeding (no breast milk).
There is no risk of getting infected in the workplace.
There is no visible evidence of the presence of HIV in the human body. Thus, a person might be unaware of his or her HIV status, especially bearing in mind than 10 years may pass between initial contagion and the occurrence of the first symptoms of weakened immune system. The only way to find out if you have HIV (so-called HIV status) is to take a special blood HIV-antibodies test.
The World Health Organization is supporting state and non-state partners in Ukraine in mounting an effective HIV/AIDS response. Main areas of technical support include HIV/AIDS treatment and care, treatment of substance dependence, and HIV testing and counselling. The HIV team of WHO has 6 staff members, and can be reached at the following address:
WHO Country Office in Ukraine
30 Borychiv Tik St.
04070 Kyiv, Ukraine
Tel.: +380 44 425 88 28
Fax: +380 44 230 28 00
For more information, visit www.tpaa.net