KYIV, Ukraine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, the participants and visitors have an opportunity to take HIV tests and receive free condoms. AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine (AHF Ukraine) opened HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) testing points in 4 Eurovision fan zones. During 10 days of fan zones work in Poshtova, Kontraktova, Sofiyska and Troyitska Squares of Kyiv all Eurovision guests can take HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis rapid tests; receive counseling on prevention and safe sexual behavior issues; and access free condoms.
"Ukraine unfortunately is a leader in the spread of HIV in Europe. A lot of guests are visiting Kyiv during the Eurovision Song Contest and all of them are young and active. We go to the most visited places of the capital - to the fan zones - to equip people with the means of contraception and with the knowledge of their HIV status. The social component is very important during such significant events as the Eurovision Song Contest; it is a great opportunity, that has to be taken a full advantage of," says Serhiy Fedorov, AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine, AHF Ukraine.
Acting Minister of Health Uliana Suprun also supported the initiative and encouraged Ukrainians and Eurovision guests to take a rapid HIV test.
"Ukraine is committed to take care of the health of its citizens. We realize importance of prevention as the most effective way to have a healthy nation. Today, HIV, viral hepatitis and STDs are a real challenge for the public health system of the country. And all of these diseases can be easily prevented by following simple rules, such as use of condoms and regular testing," says the statement from Acting Minister of Health Uliana Suprun.
The testing points will work from 10.00 to 22.00 till May 13th. AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine, AHF Ukraine is planning to perform up to 5,000 tests and distribute over 80,000 condoms.
"Kyiv is a unique place. It is a city with a thousand-year history, which certainly has its own, special soul, character and unique mosaic of personal identity. And every resident or guest of our city is a unique piece of this mosaic. Therefore, in my opinion, it is essential to take care of everyone's health and safety. Nowadays, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, unfortunately, constitute a significant threat to public health of the city and the country in general. To protect yourself and your closest people it is enough to stick to the simplest means of prevention the infection transmission – use condoms, regularly undergo testing and, if necessary, begin treatment on time" – adds Diana Popova, Director of Department of Culture of Kyiv City Administration.
Also, activists and volunteers of AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine, AHF Ukraine organized an impressive flash mob to attract attention of the fan zone visitors to the problem of HIV/AIDS. Flash mob participants – people of all ages, nationalities, sexual orientations, and people with and without disabilities – have created a symbolic necklace - the symbol of the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine. In such a way the organizers wanted to declare that "we are all so different, but at the same time in the face of the HIV epidemic we are all the same." Therefore, it is important to undergo regular HIV testing to know one’s status and to use condoms consistently. Indeed, over 60% of the cases of infection occur due to unprotected sex.
In total, 287,968 new HIV infection cases have been registered in Ukraine since 1987, 39,885 people died of AIDS in the country. More than 135,000 people with HIV-infection are under medical supervision.
The highest prevalence of HIV-infection is registered in Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Kyiv and Chernihiv regions and also in Kyiv. Since 2008, Ukrainians most frequently are infected through unprotected sex. In 2005, 33 percent of people being diagnosed with HIV were infected through sexual contact, in 2012 this percentage increased to 51. For the first time, more than half of new cases of HIV-infection occurred because of unprotected sex. In 2015, this rate increased to 60 percent. Nowadays most of new HIV cases in Ukraine are registered among young people aged from 25 to 49 years.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation was established in 1987 in Los Angeles, as a small community association, whose members were trying to alleviate the suffering of people who were doomed to die of AIDS. At present, as part of comprehensive health programs, AHF provides care, treatment and services to more than 700,000 patients living with HIV in 38 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and North America.
Testing and treatment are basic principles of AHF's strategy in fighting the AIDS epidemic globally. In 2016, the HIV test services as part of AHF global testing program were used by 4,876,984 persons, and results of 139,351 of them were found positive. Most of those who received a positive test results are already linked to treatment. This means that within 30 days these clients turn to a medical facility, where they are prescribed treatment against HIV infection.