World AIDS Day 2010: HIV still pressing concern in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – 1 December 2010 – Universal access and human rights is the theme of this year’s World AIDS day, reminding us of the critical importance of effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in her statement on World AIDS Day 2010. Learn: about HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Watch: Svetlana's story
HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
According to the 2010 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic, the number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has almost tripled since 2000 and reached an estimated total of 1.4 million in 2009 compared with 760,000 in 2001.
A rapid rise in HIV infections among people who inject drugs at the turn of the century caused the epidemic in this region to surge.
estimated number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Overall, prevalence is one percent or higher in two countries in the region – the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which together account for almost 90 percent of newly reported HIV diagnoses.
At 1.1 percent, the adult HIV prevalence in Ukraine is higher than in any other country in all of Europe and Central Asia. Annual HIV diagnoses in Ukraine has more than doubled since 1991.
The HIV epidemic in the Russian Federation also continues to grow, but at a slower pace than in the late 1990s. Newly reported HIV cases have increased in several of the countries in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, which has the largest epidemic in Central Asia.
|Svetlana Izambaeva, Russian activist and advocate, Red Ribbon Awards keynote speaker|
The HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are concentrated mainly among people who inject drugs, sex workers, their sexual partners and, to a much lesser extent, men who have sex with men. An estimated one quarter of the 3.7 million people (most of whom are men) who inject drugs in the region are living with HIV.
High HIV prevalence has also been found in prison populations, especially among incarcerated people who inject drugs. An estimated 10,000 prisoners are living with HIV in Ukraine
Unprotected sex between men is responsible for a small share of new infections in the region – less than one percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV infection for whom the route of transmission was identified. Nevertheless, official data may underplay the actual extent of infection in this highly stigmatized population.
In small surveys, the HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men has ranged from zero in Belarus, Lithuania and parts of Central Asia to five percent in Georgia, six percent in the Russian Federation and between four percent (in Kyiv) and 23 percent (in Odessa) in Ukraine.
AIDS-related deaths continue to rise in the region. There were an estimated 76,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2009 compared with 18,000 in 2001, a four-fold increase during this period.
United Nations marks World AIDS Day 2010
"Timely access to HIV-related treatment demonstrably extends lives," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
In total, five million people around the world are on life-saving anti-retroviral treatment today. Yet ten million more who are eligible for treatment still lack access.
The Global Commission on HIV and the Law, set up by UNDP this year, aims to address the legal and human rights challenges confronting the HIV response today, including the inappropriate criminalization of marginalized populations, violence and discrimination against women and children, and the barriers which stand in the way of accessing treatment.
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UNDP has been working in innovative ways to support people to advocate for and access the services they need, for example, with HIV-positive women’s groups in six regions.
In Belarus, through UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNDP has worked with nearly 100 organizations on an HIV programme focusing on sex workers, men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and prisoners.
This led to the creation of a nationwide network of HIV educational centres for young people.
On 1 December, UNDP is honouringthe winners of the Red Ribbon Award – 25 community-based organizations working on the frontline in support of communities affected by HIV.
"Over the past three decades, AIDS has caused untold suffering and death," said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "But another story has unfolded through the years, one of the global community uniting with passion to take action and save lives. These efforts are making a real difference around the world."
Globally, the number of new HIV infections and deaths has been reduced by 20 percent.
"Our hard-won gains are fragile – so our commitment to the AIDS response must remain strong, said Mr. Sidibé. “So on this World AIDS Day, take action today – together we can reach Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths."
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