On September 22, a workshop for patient communities on accessibility of innovation in HIV treatment in Ukraine was held in Kyiv.
During the workshop, influential international organizations – the EATG and the East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) – presented the research and expert estimates on broadening access to the latest ARV medications.
Vladimir Zhovtyak, the President of the ECUO, unveiled the key points of operational research “Access to medical and social services for people living with HIV”.
The survey was led by the ECUO and was conducted in nine provinces of Ukraine by sixteen HIV-service organizations being a part of the Key Communities Consortium within the project “Strengthening the impact of PLWH regional communities to improve access to timely, comprehensive, quality ARV treatment in East European and Central Asian region” implemented with the financial support of the Robert Carr Fund for civil society networks (RCNF).
The study objective was to define barriers that PLWH have in accessing medical and socio-psychological services, as well as to estimate the respect for key patient rights in various prevention and treatment facilities and satisfaction of PLWH with medical and non-medical care.
The data was processed by the “Socioconsulting” analytical center’s experts Iryna Demchenko, Larysa Holtsas and Olha Novoselova. The study revealed that 21% of patients faced changes in ARV treatment regimen without their consent. At the same time the patients didn’t understand the reasons and the benefits of such changes in treatment and their impact on their health and wellbeing. As a result, the changes in regimen led to health deterioration in over 30% of HIV-positive patients who took the survey.
“We were shocked by the survey’s results! Last year HIV treatment regimen was changed without medical reasons for 21% of respondents. It happens because a certain medication wasn’t purchased in time. If we scale-up this data to all people who receive ARV treatment in Ukraine (and the survey’s selection is representative), it appears that medication regimen was dramatically changed for 15,000 people.
When the patients were asked about their wellbeing after these changes in medication regimen, 54% admitted deterioration in health. This shows that Ukraine’s achievements in battling HIV/AIDS are in danger! If a person feels worse, he or she might give up treatment and continue spreading drug-resistant virus. The full survey report data will be revealed soon together with the expert plan from the ECUO,” says Vladimir Zhovtyak, the President of the ECUO.
During the workshop, the ECUO held a presentation for patient communities “Broadening access to the latest ARV medications in the EECA region”.
“The meeting in Kyiv showed a growing collaboration between the EATG and the ECUO – two strategically important organizations of the region. The participants hold presentations on access to ARV therapy in the region with the focus on the situation in Ukraine. I think that new governance of the World Health Organization should encourage the use of Dolutegravir instead of Efavirenz. It’s clear that compliance to treatment is the key to the use of ARV therapy in treatment as prevention and pre-contact prevention (PREP). From this perspective, self-stigmatization has always been and remains major, but still evaded, problem for people with HIV. Compliance to treatment and self-stigmatization are the problems that can be solved with the help of the HIV Tuberculosis Response, as our organization has relevant experience,” says Terry White from the EATG.