Ukraine, independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, has the highest rate of HIV in Eastern Europe. An estimated 40% of Ukrainians living with HIV and AIDS are women, and among children living with HIV, nearly 97% of them acquired HIV from their mothers. A lack of HIV services and information, along with discrimination, violence and social stigma related to HIV, means that many women do not learn they have HIV until they seek prenatal care. At the same time, vertical transmission during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding are critical concerns for children’s health as well.
As Ukraine struggled with a rising prevalence of HIV in recent years, EngenderHealth collaborated with UNFPA to address the health care challenges that women and children living with HIV face. This has included:
- Integration of HIV and STI prevention in clinical services;
- Increasing access to and quality of testing, counseling and sexual and reproductive health services;
- Supplementing existing care and treatment services at both government and local community levels with training materials that help clinicians recognize the stigma they may associate with HIV, and to foster a positive shift in their attitudes towards women and children living with HIV.