Shockingly, 80% of people hold negative attitude’s towards homosexuality in the Ukraine. These attitudes lead to stigma and discrimination against gay and bisexual men in every sphere of life. This high level of homophobia against the LGBT community, leads to gay men having limited access to HIV health services. Its no surprise Ukraine has one of the worst HIV epidemics in EuropeMany gay men prefer not to see their doctor and do not wish to admit their status to a partner. This is worrying as people who do not get HIV treatment in time are 10 times more likely to die of AIDS related illnesses.The Elton John AIDS Foundation is partnering with Friendly Doctors in Ukraine to create a welcoming, safe environment where gay men can get tested for HIV, receive counselling and be supported through their treatment. Access to HIV services are under threat in Ukraine’s current climate, but our work provides a lifeline to the LGBT community.
Volodymir has been one of the clients of this innovative project. He says, “The Friendly Doctor’s office was the place where my partner and I were not scared to come and get tested for HIV. I love the way the way you can book an appointment with a doctor online. For me it’s a great opportunity to feel safe and comfortable.”
The project works in 9 regions of Ukraine and a network of gay-friendly doctors exist who test for HIV, provide free advice on safe sexual practices and help reduce the risk of infection for gay men. Friendly Doctors are aiming to ensure 10,000 gay men a year have access to testing and will register users with AIDS centres for further support and advice.