EATG » Bryan Teixeira on the unfolding HIV/AIDS disaster in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Bryan Teixeira on the unfolding HIV/AIDS disaster in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Unfolding HIV disaster in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

The report, Let’s Not Lose Track!, was published in June 2016 (SEE attached). It describes the dire HIV situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), the only region globally that failed to achieve Millennium Development Goal 6 on HIV.

Highlights of this report include:

  • 96% of new HIV infections were among key populations and their sexual partners in 2014: 51% were among people who use drugs (PWUD), 31% among sexual partners of key populations, 6% among sex workers (SW) and 6% among men who have sex with men (MSM). 
  • In some cities, PWUD face up to 60% HIV prevalence and MSM, now accounting for an increasing portion of new infections, face a prevalence up to 25%.
  • Approximately 47% of PLHIV regionally do not know their HIV status.
  • Globally, 41% of all adults living with HIV access antiretroviral therapy (ART), while in EECA, ART is accessed by only 18% of adults living with HIV.

The report was developed by the initiative of East Europe & Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV with contributions by several regional networks: East Europe & Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO); Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM); Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN); Eurasian Network of People Using Drugs (ENPUD); Eurasian Women’s Network of AIDS (EWNA); European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG); International Treatment Preparedness Coalition in East Europe & Central Asia (ITPCru); and Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN).

Regional governments seem increasingly unwilling to support services for these very populations. Low threshold and easy access HIV services are relatively rare in the region except where funded by foreign sources. The report notes that International sources still account for 93% of funding for programs for sex workers, 96% for programs for MSM and 78% for programs for PWID. All this at the same time as several countries in the region are moving to limit the activities of foreign-funded NGOs, resulting in closure of NGO-led HIV services, e.g., in Russia and Azerbaijan.

The report makes several recommendations. For example, it calls on Governments to acknowledge the HIV burden borne by key populations and ensure that 90% are reached with targeted low threshold programming. Governments also need to institute sustainable systems of ARV medicines procurement that ensure the lowest possible prices for effective medicines. Similarly, Donors, including The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, need to adapt their eligibility criteria to ensure equitable access to services across the region where this is not provided from domestic sources.

The report is a challenge to EATG and its members to work collaboratively to address this catastrophe that is unfolding among us. Without urgent action, the Fast-Track window to 2020 will be missed and the EECA region will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3 target to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

View or download the supporting documentation from the High Level Meeting here: EECA-Position-Document-HLM

 

Bryan Teixeira

July 2016

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