HIV/AIDS advisory services and institutional capacity building
Title: HIV/AIDS advisory services and institutional capacity building
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ukrainian Ministry of Health
Overall term: 2013 to 2018
The spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a serious challenge for Ukraine. The country is coping with one of the most severe HIV epidemics in Europe, with more than 220,000 people estimated to be living with the virus, and a prevalence of 0.9 per cent among people aged between 15 and 49. According to official statistics, an average of 57 people are diagnosed with HIV every day and 27 develop AIDS, while 20 people die of AIDS-related diseases. At the same time, it is thought that the number of unreported cases is far higher.
Figures for recent years show that the number of new infections in the over 30s is increasing, whereas the number of young people becoming infected with the virus is thankfully decreasing. In general, however, the number of new infections caused by unprotected sexual intercourse or needles shared between drug users remains high. People who are unable to adequately assess the risk of infection are vulnerable.
Throughout Ukraine people are better informed about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and are able to protect themselves more effectively. Greater tolerance is now shown in society towards those affected by the disease.
For its HIV/AIDS prevention programme, GIZ has been cooperating with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health since 2007. In 2009, it launched the all-Ukrainian information campaign ‘Don’t Give AIDS a Chance!’, which is based on a similar campaign run successfully in Germany – ‘Gib AIDS keine Chance’. This campaign involves interventions in a number of key areas.
- Mass media – Posters, information materials, events and TV broadcasts are used to familiarise the general public with the issues and promote risk-reducing behaviour. This includes efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination of those at greater risk.
- Youth communication – The ‘Fair Play’ football programme and the peer-to-peer approach of the ‘Join-in Circuit’ are used to encourage healthy lifestyles and HIV prevention among young people. The project provides training for teachers and volunteers who then apply the methods as trainers, both in schools and at extra-curricular events. GIZ also supplies these trainers with the necessary materials such as textbooks, footballs and pin-boards. With the involvement of Ukraine’s education ministry, the methods are incorporated into the classroom as well as leisure activities. Other organisations, including the Football Federation of Ukraine and the United Nations Volunteers, also make use of the services developed by the project.
- Sensitisation of change agents – The project organises seminars and other events in order specifically to address individuals or groups capable of influencing society in the name of HIV prevention. These include family doctors, school and university teachers, celebrities and journalists. Likewise, private companies and transport enterprises that want to demonstrate their social responsibility by fighting HIV receive support. Another small, yet important group are the parents of homosexuals, since their children are often affected by HIV, and subjected to powerful stigmatisation and discrimination.
The ‘Don’t Give AIDS a Chance!’ campaign has reached millions of Ukrainians, both through the media and many other communication activities. Each year, an empirical study on HIV/AIDS is conducted in Ukraine to establish the level of knowledge and attitudes of the population as a whole. The findings from the study carried out in late 2015 show that people are becoming better informed about HIV and protective measures. They have changed their attitudes with respect to reducing their own risky behaviour as well as discrimination against people living with HIV. They also use different contraceptive practices.