ODESSA, Ukraine--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than two thousand Odessa residents will be able to access free HIV-testing within the new “Test & Treat Clinic” of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF Ukraine), which was opened on December 15 at the heart of Odessa city – the third largest city of Ukraine.
The facility has been opened by AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine (AHF Ukraine) in cooperation with the Odessa Regional AIDS Center within the framework of Memorandums of intent between the Ministry of Health and AHF, and between the Healthcare Department of Odessa Regional State Administration and AHF.
Odessa region is one of the most affected by HIV infections in the country. According to the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, as of October 1, 2017, the prevalence of HIV infection in the region is 876.4 per 100,000 people.
In line with the calculated data, almost half of people living with HIV in Ukraine are not aware about their HIV-positive status. Therefore, one of the key steps in implementing the state’s strategy to overcome the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 is to increase the network of medical institutions where effective models of rapid testing and treatment of HIV-positive people will operate.
The AHF’s “Test & Treat Clinic” is the first facility in Ukraine where in addition to rapid HIV testing, HIV-positive people shall immediately initiate treatment and will receive support throughout the whole process of treatment.
Zoya Shabarova, AHF Europe Bureau Chief, notes the uniqueness of the clinic opened in Odessa:
“This year the AHF celebrates the 30th anniversary of its work in the world. In Europe alone we care for more than 50 thousand patients. And we are proud that in Ukraine we celebrate this date by opening the first AHF clinic, which will work based on a comprehensive model of early detection of HIV infection and its immediate and effective treatment. It is important for us that this clinic becomes an example of a new approach to HIV diagnosis and treatment services, and that its experience and results will be used as the basis for structural changes in the National Public Health Policy in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.”
Vyacheslav Polyasny, Director of the Department of Healthcare of Odessa Regional State Administration, draws attention to the importance of cooperation in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic:
“Odessa region is one of the key regions where there is an urgent need to control HIV infection. The level of HIV morbidity in the region is one of the highest in Ukraine for more than one year in a row, so increasing the access of Odessa citizens to the services of rapid testing and, if necessary, treatment is extremely important. In Odessa region AHF has for many years supported programs for rapid testing and treatment of patients with HIV on the basis of a wide network of public health institutions of different levels. Opening a clinic in a format where comprehensive services are provided with a special focus on the individual needs of each visitor or patient is valuable not only for the patients themselves, but also for the whole region. Odessa region, as the first one to have such a clinic, is ready to further share the experience of an integrated approach to HIV infection control. We are sure that the goal of overcoming HIV infection in the region by 2030 is possible only by combining the efforts and resources of the regional authorities, public health institutions and non-governmental organizations.”
Svetlana Esipenko, head physician of the Odessa Oblast AIDS Center, underlines the region’s critical need to increase opportunities for identifying and treating HIV infection:
“The long-term cooperation of the Regional AIDS Center with AHF Ukraine, which started in 2009, has now acquired a new form, which falls in the format of healthcare reform carried out by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. The policy of the Odessa Regional State Administration and the Department of Healthcare in strengthening the response to the HIV and tuberculosis epidemic in the region is to provide patients with access to integrated services based on a single treatment facility and to bring aid closer to patients through decentralized services. The creation of the municipal body ‘Odessa Regional Center for Socially Significant Diseases’ makes it possible to introduce new forms of cooperation with international partners, in particular with AHF. Such a partnership will improve the diagnostics of HIV and other opportunistic diseases among the population, provide antiretroviral therapy for all HIV-positive patients, and increase access to preventive programs.”
All services in the clinic are free of charge. The clinic will operate from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 7:30 PM.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 847,000 individuals in 39 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.