On the 23-24 of October in Berlin the first European Conference on hepatitis C and drug use was held, calling to policy makers to ensure better access to treatment for the most-at-risk groups.
Today the hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects an estimated 9 million of European citizens. People who inject drugs, or who injected in their past, are the largest group with estimated prevalence rates in some east-European countries up to 90%. In other populations such as among "men who have sex with men (MSM)", recently the infection rates are also rising rapidly. Without proper treatment HCV can be a serious and even deadly disease.
The 1st European conference has brought together key actors on HCV, including drug user community representatives, harm reduction experts, health care professionals, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and policy makers to develop pathways for effective health responses and to open treatment for those who need it.
The considerable and increasing burden of HCV across Europe is rarely reflected attention to the issue in the past. However, this is about to change. Highly effective new treatments had already been introduced and there is a growing recognition that truly inclusive testing and treatment policies need to be established now.
During the conference were presented best policies on HCV, practices of scaling up access to treatment, testing, care and support in Europe and abroad, special attention was paid to access to treatment for the most-at-risk groups. Alliance-Ukraine during the conference has presented its own positive experience of scaling up access to HCV treatment of PWID in Ukraine.
One of the highlights during the conference was the presentation of the 'Berlin Declaration', a pressing call to national and European policy makers, to ensure better access and quality of hepatitis treatment for the most marginalized groups and individuals.
Alliance-Ukraine is one of the organizers of the international HepHIV2014 conference: “HIV and Viral Hepatitis: Challenges of Timely Testing and Care”, that was opened on the 5th of October, 2014 in Barcelona (Spain). In Europe there is an urgent need to change the strategy for testing for HIV and hepatitis. Late diagnosis means a higher mortality rate, greater risk of onward transmission and increased financial costs. This is the first time Europe has succeeded in bringing together experts in the strategic approach to testing for HIV and viral hepatitis at a common conference as challenges in connection with diagnosing HIV and hepatitis patients have many overlaps.
Alliance-Ukraine staff will make several presentations on the conference as well as posters on actual problems of HIV/Hepatitis in Eastern Europe, challenges of linkage to care. On the 7th of October one of the Alliance-Ukraine staff member will be a moderator of the session “Testing and linkages to care in key populations”
On September 30, 2014 the working meeting of regional coordinators of HCV took place in Alliance-Ukraine. The participants have analyzed changes over the last year in the field of HCV on country and regional levels, examining both achievements, positive changes and negative ones. Also, an analysis of key issues in the field of HCV was made (lack of awareness, lack of an integrated reliable system of registration of HCV cases, lack of funds for treatment from state and local budgets, lack of access to treatment for vulnerable groups, a price for treatment is still too high). Participants have analyzed the main reasons of these problems and discussed their solutions.
Progressive oblast drug policy program is approved in Sumy
In Sumy oblast, for the first time in Ukraine, oblast target program on drug policy implementation for 2014-2016 was developed and approved according to the Strategy of the State Drug Policy till 2020 which was endorsed last year. The respective decision was taken on the 36-th session of Sumy Oblast Council of 6-th convocation.
The oblast program development was initiated by civil society organization “Club “Chance”, which since 2008 has been implementing in Sumy oblast medico-social programs for the populations most vulnerable to socially dangerous diseases, including with the support of Alliance-Ukraine. “We consider development and approval of the oblast program to be a joint achievement of the government and the civil society, as without support from the chiefs of oblast state administration, oblast council and civil society activists; without expert assistance of the International Renaissance Foundation, ICF “International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine”, Charitable Organization “Svitlo Nadiyi”, our initiative would have weak chances for implementation», says Oleksiy Zagrebelnyi, Director of civil society organization “Club “Chance”.
Program activities envisage the procurement of substitution maintenance therapy drugs at the expense of the local budgets, support of the syringe exchange points and community centers for the drug users and people released from prisons, comprehensive work on treatment and rehabilitation of drug-dependent people in penitentiary facilities, etc.
State Institution "Ukrainian center for socially dangerous disease control of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine" informs that because of the situation that is now established on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, HIV-infected persons, required of medical care or antiretroviral therapy can apply to any city or municipal AIDS center in Ukraine, as well as the State Institution "Institute of Epidemiology and Infectious diseases. LV Gromashevsky Medical Science Academy of Ukraine”. Contact details of all the Centres for Prevention and Control of AIDS can be found here: http://ucdc.gov.ua/en/
On July 20, 2014 in Melbourne (Australia) the 20th International Conference on AIDS was opened. The delegation of the Alliance-Ukraine actively participates the conference – information about all activities which will take place with the participation of the Alliance can be found here.
The conference opened in a very hard time. It was especially painful to realize that among the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight were our colleagues, who flew to Melbourne. We express our deep and sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims.
On June 19 the press conference “Commanded to survive: saving refugee patients from the Crimea and Donbass” was held in the UNIAN news agency, focusing on the problems faced by the opioid substitution therapy program patients who were compelled to leave their place of permanent residence, and intermediary results of the moved patients support project implemented by Alliance-Ukraine with the financial support of the International Renaissance Foundation and Open Society Foundation.
Pavlo Skala, Director: Policy and Partnership, Alliance-Ukraine, Olena Kucheruk, Public Health Program Manager of the International Renaissance Foundation, Tetyana Loginova, Doctor of Kyiv City Narcological Clinic “Sociotherapy”, as well as refugee OST patients from the Crimea and Slovyansk.
For additional information please see press release.
12.06.2014 Memorandum to the 67-th World Health Assembly
To the 67-th World Health Assembly the international organizations, such as MDM, TAG, ACT UP Basel, APN Plus, INPUD, ITPC and Alliance-Ukraine prepared to the publication the Memorandum highlighting principal/global HCV problems and potential solutions thereto.
The focus was on the necessity to decrease the cost of HCV drugs which must become the main concern for UN member states governments and the WHO, priority treatment for PWID and PLWHA, harm reduction services promotion.
The organizations are calling upon the WHO to action via prompt implementation of biosimilar pegylated interferons prequalification and invoking it to facilitate the inclusion of generic direct-acting antiretroviral drugs to the List of Essential Medicines.
Finally, specific recommendations were provided to the UN member states and the WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in terms of the efficient counteraction of the world HCV epidemic.
Coalition Web site
On June 10-11 ICF “International HIV/AIDS Alliance” held a training on viral hepatitis C treatment and advocacy for expanding access to treatment for the vulnerable groups.
First part of the training was dedicated to enhancing the participants’ knowledge about HCV, its manifestations, indications for testing during HCV, HCV/HIV co-infection manifestations. Moreover, training participants had an opportunity to get familiar with rapid testing methodology and try them in practice. The trainer introduced the participants with the legal framework regulating HCV diagnostics and treatment, as well as therapy side effects and methods to handle them.
The second part of training was dedicated to advocacy activities on increasing access to hepatitis diagnostics and treatment. The participants presented the current situation in different regions of Ukraine and got informed on the importance of approving regional target programs and subsequent actions aimed at approving the same. The Concept of the event dedicated to the World Hepatitis day was considered and approved during the training as an important advocacy component and a preparatory stage before the event within the framework of all-Ukrainian campaign “We Demand Treatment!”.
10.06.2014 5 June - Participants of the first global partners' meeting on hepatitis convened by WHO in March 2014 agree on a historic "Call to action to scale up global hepatitis response". Alliance-Ukraine participated in development of the document. The "call to action" presses the global community for immediate and concerted action to increase access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis. Globally, close to 500 million people are affected by chronic viral hepatitis and they are at risk of developing severe liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer without access to care.
The concerted action focuses on the following areas:
• Advocacy and awareness;
• Knowledge and evidence;
• Prevention of transmission;
• Screening, care and treatment.
Read more and access the call to action
29.05.2014 Progressive recommendations of the UN International Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights for Ukraine
The UN International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has recently published a number of important recommendations on combating HIV/AIDS, opioid substitution therapy, access issues, state funding and inadequately high level of drug dependent people criminalization for the government of Ukraine.
The recommendations are based on regular review of the Ukraine’s report to the extent of fulfilling the recommendations by the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights based on the alternative "shadow report" presented by Alliance-Ukraine together with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network in October 2013. Full text of the informational note
Alliance Ukraine informs about closing the substitution maintenance therapy programs on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The decision is taken due to the situation caused by annexation of the region by the Russia Federation which practices its repressive laws and non-human treatment towards people who use drug (irrespective of their citizenship).
The resolution addressing the UN member-state to mobilize resources to fight Hepatitis was approved at the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva. Alliance Ukraine was actively involved in preparation of the document. Along with its partner-roganizations, the Alliance advocated for inclusion of the issue of access to treatment of Hepatitis for the most-at-risk groups as a part of harm reduction programs.
Information on the WHO website
21.05.2014Health in the post-2015 Development Framework: how to meet the needs of the most marginalized and excluded For the past two years, UN agencies, civil society and other stakeholders have been discussing the post-2015 Development Framework, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs). From the outset the International HIV/AIDS Alliance has engaged actively in the myriad of official post-2015 consultations and civil society discussions, recognizing that they will determine the global vision for health after the MDGs.
International HIV/AIDS Alliance prepared the briefing that puts forward a proposal for a post-2015 health goal with targets relating to universal health coverage, health outcomes and human rights, analysis of universal health coverage as it concerns the most marginalized and
excluded in the context of HIV.
Full text of the policy brief
On 22 May the drugs for substitution maintenance therapy were procured to the city of Donetsk. Further distribution of drugs among the medical facilities of Donetsk oblast will take place depending on a situation in each district of the region.
May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), a global day of àction to challenge homophobia and transphobia and to raise awareness of LGBT rights. It marks the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and is an important date for us all as Alliance members.
Since then the Day has grown in both scope and depth. Last year actions around the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia took place in almost 120 countries. Under a decade, it has established itself the single most important date for LGBTI communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale.
Global Alliance family is working hard to challenge misinformation about LGBT people, to stand in solidarity with people facing human rights abuses.
Representatives of civil society organizations and OST patients from the Crimea have addressed with an open letter to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, asking to assists in solution of the problem with further provision of HIV prevention programs in the region.
Full text of the open letter
Alliance-Ukraine together with partner organizations continues the work on expanding access to the Hepatitis C treatment.
Despite complicated political situation, regional activists carry out advocacy work within the framework of All-Ukrainian campaign “We Demand Treatment!” in order to approve oblast programs and allocate funds from the local budgets to combat the Hepatitis C (HCV) epidemic.
Lack of adequate response to the epidemic threatens the lives of thousands of HCV patients who do not have any guarantees of getting treated at the state budget expense so far. Oblast (regional) programs on combating Hepatitis C are already approved in seven oblasts, but this is not sufficient to cover the existing treatment needs.
At this stage the activists have gained the support from local media to ensure the problem publicity. Media coverage enabled them to raise the broader audience’s awareness of the current epidemic situation in most oblasts of Ukraine.
The subsequent steps within the framework of the campaign “We Demand Treatment!” stipulate roundtables and working meetings participated by the oblast management and civil society activists in order to develop HCV response strategies for oblasts. The preparation of events dedicated to the World Hepatitis Day, traditionally held on 28 July, is initiated as well.
Media monitoring summary
Alliance Ukraine coauthored an open letter of the civil society organizations to Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director, for supporting Russia’s deadly HIV policy and reluctance to boycott the IV Eastern European and Central Asian AIDS Conference scheduled for May 12-13 in Moscow. The letter was signed by more than 20 organizations from Russia, Lithuania, Canada, Romania, Georgia and other countries.
In March 2014, Alliance Ukraine initiated a boycott of the regional HIV conference in Moscow under the patronage of Government of Russian Federation after occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by Russian troops. The initiative was supported by Ukrainian state institutions and NGOs.
Full text of the open letter
The first European Conference on hepatitis C will call to policy makers to ensure better access to treatment for the most-at-risk groups.
Today the hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects an estimated 9 million of European citizens. People who inject drugs, or who injected in their past,are the largest group with estimated prevalence rates in some European countries up to 90%. In other populations such as among "men who have sex with men (MSM)", infection rates are also rising rapidly. Without proper treatment HCV can be a serious and even deadly disease.
The 1st European conference will bring together key actors on HCV, including drug user community representatives, harm reduction experts, health care professionals, pharmaceutical companies, researchers and policy makers to develop pathways for effective health responses and to open treatment for those who need it. One of the highlights during the conference will be the presentation of the 'Berlin Declaration', a pressing call to national and European policy makers, to ensure better access and quality of hepatitis treatment for the most marginalised groups and individuals.
The conference will take place on 22-24 October, 2014.
22.04.2014 Alliance Ukraine co-hosts TB Regional Network meeting
On 21-25 April, the first TB Regional Network meeting is being held in Kyiv.
Co-organized by Alliance Ukraine in collaboration with TB Europe Coalition funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the event is hosting participants from 12 countries of Eastern Europe & Central Asia (EECA) - advocates, people living with TB, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) for GF Sub-recipients (SRs) or Sub-sub-recipients.
The focus of the TB Regional Network Meeting will be on training the participants on the New Funding Model recently implemented by the GF. It should help activists and civil society organizations to participate more meaningfully and effectively in GF processes in their countries, as well as network regionally. As a result, they activists can strengthen their capacity to advocate for the meaningful engagement of CSOs in the GF process regionally including issues of domestic finance.
The regional format enables the participants to connect, to share best practices and to identify the needs of civil society organizations in further capacity building.
The project “Improving capacity of CSOs to have meaningful involvement in TB epidemic response” is funded by GIZ and Implemented by Alliance Ukraine and in collaboration with TB Europe Coalition (TBEC). The project activities are aimed at improving capacity of CSOs to have meaningful involvement in TB epidemic response.
10.04.2014 WHO published first viral hepatitis C diagnostics and treatment guidelines
WHO guidelines are nine key recommendations based on best practices and latest scientific evidence in viral hepatitis treatment field. Alliance-Ukraine participated in their development and finalization. The experience gained within the framework of “Demanding Treatment” campaign proved valuable on the global level.
Members of the WHO Strategic Committee on Hepatitis have also developed recommendations on the WHO guidelines implementation. These two WHO documents are important for further work in the hepatitis sphere, in particular, for development and implementation of modifications to the existing hepatitis programs, including the State Program, with regard to cooperation with key responsible officials on the oblast, local and national level, in work with doctors, for consolidation of civil society, government and pharmaceutical manufacturers efforts.
Alliance-Ukraine participated in their development and finalization. The experience gained within the framework of “Demanding Treatment!” campaign proved valuable on the global level.
Full text of guidelines in English
02.04.2014 Results of the campaign dedicated to the World TB Day, held on March 24-26, 2014
This year the event was conducted by Rinat Akhmetov's Foundation "Development of Ukraine" together with the Department of Health of KCSA, TMO "Ftisiatria", ICF "International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine", the Red Cross Society in Ukraine.
During 3 days 399 people passed screening on the base of modern mobile digital fluoromobiles at the railway station “South” in Kyiv. Changes in the lungs were identified in 93 persons, 6 of them had TB infection, 9 had cancers and 78 had pneumonia and other chronic lung diseases.
People who had changes in the lungs had an opportunity to visit phthisiatrician for consultation and pass TB screening at Kiev TB dispensary, equipped with modern diagnostic equipment.
Also, everyone was given the opportunity to be screened for HIV/STI/hepatitis using rapid tests in a mobile lab of the Kiev-based NGO "Club Eney".
146 tests were conducted. The results showed that 2 persons had HIV and 1 person had syphilis. People being tested received information about how and where to apply for confirmation of the result and subsequent medical supervision.
Dissemination of condoms and information materials on HIV, TB and viral hepatitis was also carried out as a part of the campaign.
March 24 - Ukrainian and World TB Day
On World TB Day, the Alliance calls for access to prevention and treatment of this disease to all who need it
To World TB Day (March24), Rinat Akhmetov's Foundation "Development of Ukraine" under the Program "Stop TB in Ukraine" holds its traditional campaign on free anonymous and safe screening on the base of modern mobile digital fluoromobiles.
Everybody can pass free X-ray screening from 24 to 28 of March according to the following schedule: Kiev: March 24 • South Railway Station (in front of main entrance), from 10:30 to 18:00 (lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00). March 25 • South Railway Station (in front of main entrance), from 09:00 to 18:00 (lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00). • Bus station "Podol " (15A Nizhniy Val, st.), from 09:00 to 18:00 (lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00). March 26 • South Railway Station (in front of main entrance), from 09:00 to 18:00 (lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00). • Central Bus Station (1/2 Nauky ave), from 09:00 to 18:00 (lunch break from 13:00 to 14:00). March 27 and 28 • 38, Khreschatyk st. (near Central Department Store), from 09:00 to 18:00 (lunch from 13:00 to 14:00).
ICF "International HIV / AIDS Alliance in Ukraine" organizes activities on primary diagnosis and prevention of HIV, consultation and dissemination of information materials on HIV, TB and viral hepatitis.
Counseling and testing for HIV will be conducted in a mobile van of Alliance using rapid tests. 24 -26.03.2014 from 12.00 to 16.00 at South Railway Station (in front of main entrance)
About 800 substitution therapy patients may become the first refugees from the Crimea!
As of today the stock of medicines for opioid substitution therapy (OST) available on the peninsula, i.e. methadone and buprenorphine, is sufficient for several weeks only. In Sevastopol the situation is the most critical, as OST sites in this city were compelled to start decreasing patients’ dosage. As you know, OST and medicines for it are prohibited in Russian Federation, thus these drugs may be supplied only from the inland part of Ukraine. Since all the highways to the Crimea are now being blocked by armed men, medicines supply is impossible (each batch of the narcotic drugs must be attended by an armed police squad).
In the Crimea OST has been implemented for 9 years already, almost 800 drug dependent patients daily receive the respective treatment on the basis of local healthcare facilities in Simferopol, Sevastopol, Yalta, Eupatoria, Feodosia, Kerch and other cities. Depriving the patients of this life-saving treatment could cause a social outburst. OST termination in the Crimea due to the medicines stock depletion and therapy provision discontinuation can make hundreds of patients and their families to flee from the peninsula.
Yesterday ICF “International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine” officially appealed to the Crimean government with the request to promptly settle this serious issue. Being an international non-governmental organization, the Alliance is ready to act as an intermediary between the authorized bodies of Ukraine and the Crimea in order to provide as soon as possible a humanitarian supply of medicines to cover OST needs for the next 6 months.
We call on the representatives of the new Crimean government to prevent adverse consequences, demonstrate humanism and instantly start organizing the medicines supply!
10.02.2014 Alliance Marks Its 20th Anniversary
The Secretariat of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance based in Brighton, UK, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. The anniversary will be marked with a three-day convention focusing on the theme of Together To End AIDS. The convention kicks off with a parliamentary reception at the House of Lords, hosted by one of the Alliance’s staunchest supporters Lord Fowler, Head of the Special Commission on HIV/AIDS.
Some 80 delegates from all round the world will be coming together this week to reflect on the global HIV epidemic to date and the action still needed to accelerate efforts to end AIDS once and for all. Notable speakers include Senegal’s Minister for Health, Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck; UNAIDS US Director Simon Bland and Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
According to the Alliance’s Executive Director, Alvaro Bermejo: “I’m proud to represent the Alliance in its 20th year and am thrilled that so many of our partners from overseas will be able to join us for this very special occasion. It’s thanks to them that we have managed to make headway in combating HIV, however there’s still a long road ahead.”
In 1994, the Alliance established its first HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Senegal. The organization now works in partnership with national civil society organizations in 40 countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2012 the charity reached more than 4.7 million people, including nearly a million with sexual and reproductive health services.
21.01.2014 Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation was signed between the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine and International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine for 2014-2016
In virtue of this document the SPS management commits to support the programs of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention and treatment in the penitentiary institutions and facilities in all Ukraine. The Memorandum will facilitate more efficient interaction of the SPS central office and regional divisions, international donors and civil society organizations within the framework of the implementation of State Target Social Program for Combating HIV/AIDS for 2014-2018, Concept of Implementation of the State Policy on Countering Drug Abuse and Illegal Circulation of Drugs and Precursors for 2011-2015 and the Concept of State Target Social Program for Combating Tuberculosis for 2012-2016 approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.
Principal cooperation line is the prevention of HIV/AIDS, TB, viral Hepatitis, STI among the persons registered with the Probationary Inspection, through which more than 300,000 persons circulate annually. According to the estimates, 30% of them are people who inject drugs.
Moreover, taking into account the penitentiary system reforming and the outlook for probationary service establishment, a separate provision and annex to the Memorandum envisages such innovative cooperation format as organization of daytime centers, where the work with clients is grounded on case management and harm reduction principles; most importantly, these centers will operate on the basis of Probationary Inspection subdivisions specially prepared for these purposes by the Alliance.
For 7 years Alliance Ukraine in cooperation with the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine and in partnership with regional NGOs has been implementing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment projects among the prisoners. During 2006-2012 more than 146 000 of the inmates were covered with the services.