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Creating an AIDS free future in the Ukraine

16 June 2014

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Now that we have the tools to contain and reduce the spread of HIV, we've seen infection rates decline in some of the hardest hit areas on the globe. Yet, in the Ukraine,the epidemic is growing at an alarming rate. New infections are on the rise, with the crisis driven by poor awareness, limited access to HIV treatment and a challenging political climate. As is so often the case, women shoulder this growing HIV burden and find themselves isolated, vulnerable and on the fringes of society.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation works with HealthRight International, to give a lifeline to hundreds of women and their children. Women living on the streets or in unstable and abusive environments are often the victims of sexual attacks and at risk of contracting HIV and STIs. HealthRight provides safe accommodation for these women and helps them access a range of services such as HIV testing, counselling and childcare. Through this partnership we've seen first-hand that compassion can help create an AIDS free future.

Giving Olha a place to call home

The Foundation has funded two halfway homes in Donetsk and Kiev for children and their mothers who are desperate to get their lives back on track. Olha is one of many women helped by HealthRight and given a place to call home.  Thomas from our Grants team shares Olha’s story:

“Like many women who come through HealthRight’s doors, Olha was in desperate need of help and had a painful history of domestic violence. Her husband, who was HIV positive, would insist on unprotected sex and regularly abused alcohol and drugs.  

Olha was in an extremely vulnerable situation but didn’t know her HIV status.  After being severely beaten by her husband whilst he was drunk, Olha was referred to the HealthRight halfway-home in Kiev. After receiving immediate care, Olha and her daughter were able to recover from the abuse they had survived at home and begin their journey to a brighter future.

Olha is now working, earning money and continues to receive life changing support from HealthRight’s team of staff. She feels so much more secure and is even looking to transfer to a more permanent home due to the help she received at HealthRight.”

HIV testing  and support

In just two years, 500 young women like Olha have engaged with HealthRight Service Centres or outreach programmes. Almost 80% have undergone HIV testing, with many of these women successfully transferring to private accommodation or reuniting with their families.