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Speeches and Interviews

Ambassador Remarks on HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

Ambassador John F. Tefft

“Scaling up the National Response to HIV/AIDS through Information and Services” (SUNRISE) End-of-Project Conference

December 9, 2011

Good morning. Deputy Minister Tolstanov, Ms. Awo Ablo and Honored Guests: On behalf of the United States Government and the U.S. Agency for International Development – or USAID – I am delighted to welcome you here today. It is my pleasure to be here and see so many important partners representing different sectors at this conference.

Our presence together underscores the important partnership between government and civil society, and the strategic partnership between the United States and Ukraine, in combating the scourge of HIV/AIDs.

For a decade, the United States and the Government of Ukraine have been partners in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We are proud to be the largest bilateral donor to Ukraine’s National HIV/AIDS program and to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This conference will summarize and share our joint achievements and best practices over the past seven years. 

In February of this year, the United States Government and the Government of Ukraine signed a Partnership Framework to establish greater cooperation in countering HIV/AIDS for the period of 2011 to 2015. The Framework emphasizes the joint intention of the two governments to reduce the level of HIV transmission among most-at-risk populations. We plan to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for these populations.

Finally, we aim to strengthen national and local leadership capacity and improve the policy environment to support national AIDS program objectives.

The Partnership Framework also supports a commitment by both governments to creating evidence-based HIV/AIDS programs that emphasize both a public health and human rights approach. In an important step forward, the Government of Ukraine recently adopted a revised law on ‘Prevention of AIDS and Social Protection of the Population’ that protects the human rights of individuals vulnerable to and living with HIV. And importantly, among other provisions, this law ensures the provision of opioid substitution therapy – or medication assisted treatment – for people who inject drugs.

The U.S. Government recognizes the crucial role of civil society in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Through the SUNRISE project we have helped strengthen the capacity of non-profit organizations to catalyze change and respond more innovatively and effectively to HIV/AIDS in priority regions.

It is impressive how this project, by working closely with all of you, facilitated numerous innovations in HIV/AIDS prevention among most at risk populations. Many innovations developed under SUNRISE were later scaled-up and incorporated into the Global Fund programs in Ukraine.

The synergy between the Global Fund and USAID’s SUNRISE project has produced an impressive reduction in the spread of the HIV epidemic in the nine regions where these projects worked. 

However, there is still a lot to be done. We believe that HIV/AIDS can be contained, but only if we continue to work together and target our resources, human and financial, to those most at risk.  As with any disease, we must prevent the spread of the disease among those most likely to become infected and care for those who are infected.  There is no room for stigma and discrimination in battling this epidemic.

Fortunately, today in Ukraine, we have evidence-based, modern scientific approaches that have been piloted and proven successful. Particularly important is our growing knowledge about how to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among most at-risk populations.  Perhaps most significant is the value of medication- assisted treatment, which makes it possible for injecting drug users to adhere successfully to anti-retroviral treatment and prevent the spread of HIV.

Thank you for your continued commitment in combating HIV/AIDS.  I wish you a productive day and lasting courage and inspiration in your fight against the epidemic. Your work is important. The U.S. is pleased to lend our support and join with you in saving lives.