3 October, 2010 12:03

Bill Clinton and Elena Pinchuk called off Ukrainians to the fight against AIDS

On October, 3 Bill Clinton – the 42nd President of the USA and the current humanitarian leader visited Kiev on invitation of Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation. He delivered a speech devoted to the fight against AIDS at Mykhailivska square in frames of the "Battle for the Future" event. He was supported by the famous Ukrainian celebrities – Ani Lorak, Irina Bilyk, Aleksandr Ponomaryov, Jamala, Tina Karol, Natalya Mogilevskaya and "Star Factory 3" participants. This event was live broadcasted by the Noviy Channel.
Bill Clinton and Elena Pinchuk called off Ukrainians to the fight against AIDS / Elena Pinchuk Foundation
Author: Efrem Lukatsky | Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation

10 years later at the same square President Clinton addressed Ukrainians again. This time he visited Ukraine as a current humanitarian leader to draw attention to the AIDS problem which causes millions of deaths worldwide. Ukraine keeps its sad leadership in Eastern Europe as a country with highest number of new HIV/AIDS cases.

Clinton Foundation has been already partnering with Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation for many years. Starting in 2006 a joint project of two foundations has been working in Dnepropetrovsk region. Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation pledged US 2,5 million to support 5 year project. Significant results are reached during four years: substitution therapy for injecting drug users has been launched; training and mentoring for specialists on laboratory diagnostics and treatment of HIV/AIDS is introduced and the most important – the first research program on rapid tests in Ukraine has been started. This program permits HIV testing without complex laboratory equipment in the most remote areas.

"Ukraine faced real problem because people didn't want to be tested and about a half of those who had taken a test and were tested positive never returned to find out their own result. And now you come, get tested and receive your result within a minutes. I took a test almost twenty years ago to set an example. It is a crime in the twenty-first century for a young person to die because of AIDS! But you should have a desire to be tested, you should take care of your health. I work a lot with Bill Gates and his foundation on developing vaccine to cure AIDS. But vaccine is still under development. All we have now – is prevention and treatment. And all this begins with a simple test," said President Clinton taking the floor at Mykhailivska Sq.

To set an example Star Factory – 3 participants took HIV test in live air.

The "Battle for the Future" was composed as 90 minutes show where celebrities, singers and audience actively interacted. They sang karaoke version of the "Save the love" song, devoted to the fight against AIDS together with the "Star factory 3", joined the dance flash mob organized by Facebook fans of the Fashion AID project, met celebrities in the crowd. All the dancers wore T-shirts with the safe sex prints that can be ordered at the www.fashion-aid.in.ua site.

During the whole event dozens of volunteers-students of the National Medical Academy worked at the square. They talked with audience about HIV/AIDS, testing and safe sex, gave out the leaflets HIV/AIDS information and condoms in special social packaging.

The Joint project of the Clinton Foundation and the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation

Dnepropetrovsk region was selected as a pilot region for this project due to the fact that Dnipropetrovsk had the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and drug addiction spread in Ukraine in 2006. As of January 2010 there were 27 407 HIV cases registered. More than a half of all HIV cases caused by injection drug use.

The substitution therapy is a treatment during which the patients suffering from opioid drug addiction instead of illegal drugs receive substitute medicine, e. g. methadone, under the doctor's control. Substitution therapy is taken orally. It restrains parallel use of other opiates and leads to long-term physical, psychological and social stability. Amongst the social benefits are crime decrease and decriminalization of drug users. Substitution therapy' clients stay in regular contact with medical authorities and subject to further prevention. In addition, the risk of infectious disease spread including HIV is decreased. According to WHO, substitution therapy allows to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

The substitution therapy program for injecting drug users started in Dnepropetrovsk region in July 2008. Starting from December 2008, 302 patients (178 of them are HIV-positive) receive the methadone in healthcare facilities of the region. All program' clients also have an access to infectious disease diagnostic and treatment services, social workers assistance.

The program aimed to simplify and speed up HIV testing is very important for Ukraine, as only one out of four HIV-positive Ukrainians knows his or her status. The Clinton Foundation developed and launched study that demonstrated efficiency of the use of two rapid tests of different producers. Due to that, the most vulnerable groups – IDUs and FSWs – improved their access to testing. Rapid tests delver unique solutions to small and remote areas where patients quite often have to wait more than a month to get test results. Very soon, specialists will be able to test and determine diagnostic and treatment approach based on rapid test results that can be known in 1-20 minutes, depending on test producer.

The algorithm of two rapid tests is available in twelve health facilities of the region, including TB hospitals, STI diseases dispensaries that make this service more available for the most at risk group representatives. According to present data, in September 2010 more than 9200 people were tested with rapid tests,16% out of all, tested HIV-positive.

To provide better quality treatment for HIV-positive people in Dnepropetrovsk region, the Clinton Foundation involves international experts and introduces trainings and mentorship program for specialists in the area of laboratory diagnostics, HIV/AIDS treatment and drug addiction. More than 350 specialists from all over Ukraine have already participated in the program.

The history of the project

On September, 15 2004 the Memorandum of understanding with Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative and Ukrainian Government was signed under assistance of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation.

The Minister of Health of Ukraine on behalf of the government signed the addendum to this Memorandum in November 2005. According to these documents Ukraine became the member of Consortium of the countries purchasing ARV-treatments at special prices. The Foundation provides technical assistance for the Ukrainian government in the area of substitution therapy, development of the training program for HIV/AIDS treatment specialists, HIV testing.

In September 18, 2006 in New York, the agreement of cooperation was signed between President Clinton, Elena and Victor Pinchuk. The Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation and the Victor Pinchuk Foundation pledged US 2.5 million to support Ukrainian project. The Clinton Foundation provides development and implementation of the project on universal access for HIV/AIDS treatment and supply specialists on its implementation in Ukraine.

HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

According to the international experts estimation, 350 000 people (1.3 % of the country population aged 15-49) live with HIV/AIDS in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Center for Prevention and Control of AIDS 58% among all HIV cases registered since 1987 are caused by injection drug use.

The substitution therapy program using buprenorphine has been introduced in 2004 in Ukraine, using methadone – since 2008. As of September 1, 2010 836 patients receive buprenorphine treatment, 4 816 – methadone treatment under support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 120 medical institutions located in all regions of Ukraine.

According to the World Health Organization, United Nations agency on HIV/AIDS and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime the substitution therapy is one of the most effective kinds of pharmacological treatment of opioid dependence and HIV/AIDS prevention. The results of more than 100 researches performed in the different countries contain convincing data that this therapy leads to reduction of illegal drug use, decline of risk behavior, decrease in overdose and improve health, reduce criminal activity, improve lives and return to employment.

The substitution therapy with the help of methadone and buprenorphine is implemented in 59 countries of the world. 875 000 patients in the world received methadone treatment in 2005.

Starting from 2002 Health Access Initiative (project of the Clinton Foundation) renders assistance to the countries in introduction large-scale programs of integrated care, treatment and prevention. The initiative closely cooperates with 22 countries of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Caribbean and Latin America aimed at building the health system and supplying HIV/AIDS treatment by the means of providing the governments with technical assistance, mobilization of human and financial resources, supporting the spread of the best practices among the national projects. For example, in the frames of pediatric and rural programs the Foundation provides care and treatment of the population for whom these services are not affordable. The Foundation also reached an agreement of lowering prices for treatment and diagnostic systems, which have become now available in more than 70 world countries where more than 90% of population live with HIV/AIDS. Nowadays 1,4 million people receive the ARV-treatment purchased in the frames of the agreements reached by the Foundation. You can get detailed information at www.clintonfoundation.org.

The ANTIAIDS Foundation was founded by Elena Pinchuk in 2003. This is the first and sole charitable organization committed to fighting against AIDS in Ukraine operating on private donations. The Elena Pinchuk Foundation aims to realize its activities at all social levels - from national programs to direct support to the people affected by AIDS epidemic. Among Foundation' programs are national media campaigns, large – scale actions with the world wide known celebrities, fundraising for the concrete projects, work with the opinion leaders, attracting best international experience for the fight against AIDS in Ukraine, involving famous Ukrainians for the fight against AIDS. The Elena Pinchuk ANIAIDS Foundation organized in Ukraine several large-scaled charitable events - concert of Sir Elton John on Kiev Maydan Nezalezhnosty in 2007 and Queen + Paul Rogers concert in 2008 in Kharkov at Freedom Square. Today the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation has such partners as the Clinton Foundation and Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2010 Elena Pinchuk became a member of UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention.


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