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Global health fund urges Ukraine to step up fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic
  By Associated Press, Published: January 16

KIEV, Ukraine - The head of a global health fund on Monday urged Ukraine to step up its efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Europe's largest.

Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, called on the Ukrainian authorities to expand opiate substitution therapy, ensure HIV/AIDS treatment in prison and increase government funding of anti-AIDS programs.

"This is the region of the world - the only region of the world - where the AIDS epidemic is still growing," Kazatchkine told reporters in Kiev, adding that other countries have managed to stabilize their epidemics.

The Global Fund is set disburse $86 million for HIV prevention and treatment in Ukraine in 2012-2013, part of a massive $305 million five-year grant. The fate of the grant came under threat last year due to the government's failure to ensure an uninterrupted supply of anti-AIDS drugs, but Tetyana Aleksandrina, a government official charged with AIDS prevention vowed that such delays will not happen again.

The United Nations says Ukraine has Europe's worst AIDS epidemic with 1.3 percent of the population above 15 infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Ukraine - Mykola Azarov: In 2013 all patients will receive antiretroviral therapy free

All patients who need antiretroviral therapy will receive it free in 2013 year. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov said this at a meeting on January 16, with executive director of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Michel Kazatchkine.

"Next year for the funds of the state budget antiretroviral therapy more than forty-three thousand patients receive and, practically, we will absolutely balance patients with antiretroviral therapy. It is an extremely important task for us, because people do not always able to pay for such treatment" - Mykola Azarov said.

He added that at present about 86% of patients received the treatment for budget means.

The Prime Minister noted that over last two years it has been managed to reduce the growth rates of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. PM reported that, compared with 2004, in 16 times funding for treatment and prevention of these diseases has been increased.

Michel Kazatchkine, in turn, pointed on Ukraine's success in combating these diseases.

"Ukraine's success in combating these problems is significant as in the regional and worldwide" - the director of the Global Fund said.

He stressed that antiretroviral therapy more than 25 thousand people in Ukraine receive, and 7 years ago when the Foundation started cooperation with Ukraine, only 250 patients received the treatment.

In addition, the fund supports the structural changes in Ukraine on Prevention and Control of Tuberculosis.

"For struggle against tuberculosis, we support the structural changes that are happening in Ukraine", - Michel Kazatchkine said.

Among the problem that still need resolution, the chairman of the fund noted the need to increase the number of patients of substitution therapy and bettering treatment in prison.

In turn the PM instructed the Minister of Health to take under personal control solution of mentioned problems.

Ukraine will continue to implement programs for use of replacement therapy for patients with HIV/AIDS

Ukraine will continue to implement programs for use of replacement therapy for patients with HIV/AIDS. This was announced by executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Michel Kazatchkine at a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov.

"We had a very frank and open discussion with the Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov. He said quite clearly: as replacement therapy, Ukraine will continue to move outlined course and continue to use replacement therapy as a means of HIV prevention"- said Michel Kazatchkine. He said the program was intended to cover 20 thousand patients with substitution, "And if this figure increase, this will lead to revise the existing legal norms". At the same time the head of the Fund noted the successful implementation by Ukraine of substitution therapy. He stressed that in Eastern Europe, Ukraine is a leader in this regard.

In addition, Ukraine's achievements in fighting HIV/AIDS, according to Michel Kazatchkine, is the close cooperation of NGOs with government agencies, as well as the use of antiretroviral treatment for Ukrainian patients with AIDS. "At the moment treatment is covered 25 thousand patients. It should be noted that when Ukraine submitted an application for participation in the program, it was only about 250 patients. So we can say that the number of those who receive aid has increased in 100 times", - the Executive Director of the General Fund noted.

Overall, he said, the Global Fund has granted Ukraine substantial funds to combat this problem: from 2003 to 2016, our state will receive 640 million dollars.

"I am grateful to the Prime Minister for the meeting. We had a very frank and productive discussion", - Michel Kazatchkine said.

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