The first free and confidential HIV testing point in Eastern Europe, "AHF Checkpoint.kiev," has opened earlier this week in Kiev accompanied by a mobile testing van.
Launch of "AHF Checkpoint.kiev" was organized by a representative office of AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ukraine (AHF Ukraine). The main purpose of the opening is to increase access to HIV testing for different populations. The "Checkpoint" format provides testing services for certain groups men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users, as well as other categories of the population.
Information support of "AHF Checkpoint.kiev" is implemented through the simultaneous launch of the website www.freeHIVtest.org.ua, where the people of Ukraine can find out the location of the nearest HIV testing point in 12 regions of the country.
"As part of the European HIV testing week, we have opened the first community-based testing point for various groups of key affected populations. Testing in our checkpoint is confidential, free, and most importantly, takes place in a friendly atmosphere. All over the world AHF uses all possible means to promote and provide rapid testing. This includes working with both medical professionals and the community. We do everything possible to both encourage people to find out their HIV status and to remove psychological fears of medical institutions. The mobile van will help testing get to even the most remote areas of the city and also could be utilized at public events. In this way people from different groups, including men who have sex with men and injecting drug users can get tested, and the test itself becomes closer to people," said Anna Zakowicz, Deputy Chief of the European Bureau of AHF.
HIV testing is conducted using rapid tests (result is provided in 15 minutes) on a model that AHF promotes and supports in 37 countries. In addition to HIV testing services visitors of the checkpoint are provided with "peer to peer" counseling, have access to free condoms and advice on safe sexual behavior. Those whose test result is positive are linked to medical care and support in government clinics of Ukraine.
"Ukraine is the leader in Europe in the spread of HIV. According to national estimates about 220 thousand people in Ukraine live with HIV. Only 132,000 of them are registered, which means that about 40% of people do not know that they are HIV positive. People still mistakenly believe that if they do not inject drugs or are not involved in sex work, HIV does not affect them. Unfortunately, HIV spreads among the other groups. Statistics show that sexual transmission of HIV is already 73% of new cases in Ukraine. Therefore, it is important for everyone to know their status, and testing for HIV is the first step in addressing the HIV AIDS epidemic," said Natalia Nizova, General Director of the Center for Public Health in Ukraine.
To support the work of "AHF Checkpoint.kiev" are the representative of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, General Director of the Center for Public Health in Ukraine; Mykola Povoroznyk, deputy head of Kyiv City State Administration; and Jacek Tyshko, director of UNAIDS in Ukraine, who performed a rapid test for HIV at the opening ceremony.
Mykola Y. Povoroznyk, Deputy Head of Kyiv City State Administration said that, "The opening of the checkpoint is implemented within the framework of the Paris Declaration signed earlier by the mayor of Kyiv, Mr. Vitali Klitschko. It is accelerating actions to overcome the AIDS epidemic in major cities to meet the strategic targets of the UNAIDS Fast Track 90 90 90 Initiative. Thus, the Ukraine capital sets the example to other regions in the fight against HIV.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 659,000 individuals in 37 countries worldwide in the U.S., Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us @aidshealthcare.
Anna Zakowicz, Deputy Bureau Chief
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Denis Godlevskiy, Advocacy and marketing manager in Russia and Ukraine
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Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications
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