Abuses Against HIV-Positive, High-Risk Groups in Ukraine Impeding Access to Prevention, Treatment, Report Says
Abuses against people living with HIV/AIDS and groups at high risk of contracting the virus in Ukraine are impeding access to treatment and prevention services, according to a report released on Thursday by New York-based Human Rights Watch, the AP/Kyiv Post reports (Lisova, AP/Kyiv Post, 3/2). The report, titled "Rhetoric and Risk: Human Rights Abuses Impeding Ukraine's Fight Against HIV/AIDS" is based on the testimony of 101 people in Ukraine either living with HIV/AIDS or considered to be in a high-risk group. According to the report "physical and psychological abuse and violations of due process by police, coupled with widespread discrimination by health care providers," are hampering access to services in the country. The report details abuse by police and health care workers, including reports of police identifying injection drug users for arrest at legal needle-exchange sites, authorities detaining HIV/AIDS outreach workers who provide prevention information to high-risk groups, hospitals turning patients away because of their HIV status and ambulances refusing to transport injection drug users or HIV-positive people (HRW report, 3/2). Rebecca Schleifer, a researcher with HRW's HIV/AIDS and Human Rights program, said in a statement, "Ukraine's ambitious HIV/AIDS programs won't succeed unless the government eliminates the abusive practices that undermine its prevention and treatment efforts" (HRW release, 3/2). According to the AP/Kyiv Post, the Ukrainian government has not commented on the report (AP/Kyiv Post, 3/2). Some HIV/AIDS experts estimate that about 1% of Ukraine's population, or 500,000 people, are living with HIV. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has made curbing the disease a focus of his administration amid fears over the epidemic's effects on the country's economy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/28/05).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.