Magazine article New Internationalist

HIV Epidemic Looms

Magazine article New Internationalist

HIV Epidemic Looms

Article excerpt

'I was 13 when I first tried heroin and I was hooked immediately,' says Yevgeny Selin.

When Yevgeny turned 24 he started combating his drug dependency with Opiate Agonist Therapy (OAT) in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Backed by the World Health Organization, OAT replaces hard drugs like heroin with less potent substitutes. It is one of the most effective methods of reducing opioid misuse and preventing HIV.

But the military conflict and political stalemate in Eastern Ukraine - between Russian-backed separatists and Western-back nationalists - has made treatments like OAT impossible to access.

Soon after fighting broke out in 2014, links to large networks of health facilities and NGOs that provided services to HIV-positive people were severed. Yevgeny and the 759 other registered patients were cut off from treatment.

With 240,000 HIV-positive people, Ukraine has Europe's secondfastest growing population, after Russia, driven mostly by people who inject drugs. …

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