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Firstly, it will get a $88 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS that has been in doubt for some time. Secondly, a new online service, “Anti-AIDS Map” was launched. It will provide information on places to for anonymous blood tests and condom-vending machines.
But this is where good news ends in the nation that has 360,000 HIV-positive people, the worst rate in Europe.
Although the increase in the rate has been close to zero over the past year, this was not due to any government effort, which sets dismal budgets aside to cope with the AIDS problem, in particular, its prevention.
It is the government’s inaction and bureaucracy that endangered the long talked-about grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The papers are still waiting to be signed a year after negotiations started.
Nicolas Cantau, the Global Fund’s portfolio manager in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said the money will be given over two years to three main recipients, including two non-government organizations (the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine) and the state Ukrainian AIDS Center.
“We will see how it goes, and if everything is fine, we will have three more years to work together,” said Cantau, indicating that Ukraine might still have a chance to receive a larger grant of $301.7 million.
Initially that’s how much the global fund planned to give to the nation over five years, before coming against red tape and corruption in the medical sector.
Andriy Klepikov, executive director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, is happy about the grant, but says it’s not enough.
“We are disturbed by the absence of state financing of the HIV/AIDS prevention programs,” he says. “Even this big external financing is not enough without the internal one.”
This year's AIDS Day Report by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), released every fall, echoes Klepikov’s fears, saying that “the scale of investments remains inadequate in Ukraine, incommensurate with the scale of the epidemic.”
Nevertheless, just a few days before World Day against HIV/AIDS, the government attempted to put up a bold front, announcing that HIV-pisitive children will now get more financial assistance.
Tatyana Aleksandrina, head of the State Service of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment, said the state's pay to such children will be upped from from 34 to Hr 170 per month.
For comparison, an HIV-positive child needs Hr 300 worth of special nutrition per month to supplement their regular diet, according to Ludmyla Batekhina, deputy chief of specialized Makeyevka orphanage for HIV-positive children.
The government has also got to catch up with the non-government sector as far as prevention programs go.
The new online service, maps.antiaids.org, launched by Olena Pinchuk’s Anti-AIDS Foundation is good and welcome, but – once again- is not enough.
The rest of the nation still has many chemists in drug stores who will not sell condoms to a young couple, saying they're too young to have sex, people reported.