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Russian Invasion of Ukraine Threatens HIV Prevention Efforts and Worsening of HIV Epidemic

December 18, 2023
by Chigoziri Konkwo

Discoveries & Impact (December 2023)

Ukraine has the second-worst HIV epidemic in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, which is particularly concentrated among people who inject drugs. Syringe services programs provide people who inject drugs with sterile needles, syringes, and other HIV prevention services, all of which are essential for the prevention of HIV transmission in Ukraine.

A collaboration between researchers at Yale and the Alliance for Public Health in Ukraine has found that organizations providing key interventions against HIV transmission have been put under significant strain due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They found that demand for syringe services programs has substantially increased due to pharmacy closures and increased illicit drug use amid the stresses of war. Supply for these programs, however, has diminished, as organizations have struggled to accumulate sufficient capacity of HIV prevention supplies.

As the war in Ukraine proceeds, these stressors can lead to even higher rates of HIV transmission, both within Ukraine and outside of its borders. Authors propose that collective strategizing and data sharing between organizations providing syringe services in Ukraine can help to alleviate the barriers to HIV prevention services.

To learn more, read the article, “Early disruptions to syringe services programs during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Nikitin, B. M., Bromberg, D. J., Pykalo, I., Ivasiy, R., Islam, Z., & Altice, F. L. (2023). Early disruptions to syringe services programs during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Frontiers in Public Health, 11.

Submitted by Julie Parry on December 18, 2023