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This article was published 14/7/2009 (2903 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials are working to combat an HIV epidemic in Ukraine.
Dr. James Blanchard, director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Global Public Health, and Wendy Schettler, head of public health programs with Winnipeg’s International Centre for Infectious Diseases, are in Ukraine this week to help develop a model HIV/AIDS prevention program there in partnership with UNICEF.
"The University of Manitoba has a 25-year history of HIV prevention, care and support in Africa and India which has made it a world leader, and ICID is proud to work with them to help assist a country struggling with the burden of HIV/AIDS," ICID president Terry Duguid said Tuesday.
A 2008 report by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS estimated the number of people in Ukraine living with AIDS had more than doubled since 2001 to 440,000.
Ukraine’s faltering economy over the past decade has contributed to the problem, Duguid said in an interview.
"There’s been a lot of economic dislocation. There’s a lot of intravenous drug use. Unfortunately, there’s also a thriving sex trade there," he said. "These are all the ingredients for a growing epidemic."
Duguid noted that there is "a very strong connection" between Ukraine and Manitoba’s Ukrainian community. "There will be funds raised in Canada to support these programs in Ukraine," he said of the HIV prevention work.
Ukraine’s HIV epidemic was originally linked to intravenous drug use, but increasingly the infections have been transmitted through heterosexual intercourse and from pregnant mothers to their children. For female sex workers, the prevalence of HIV is 10 times the general population.
The goal of the trip is to develop a model prevention program in the eastern city of Zaporizhzhya, which has been hard hit by the epidemic. The program can then be scaled up and used across the country.