Ukraine war shutters HIV clinics, disrupts drug supplies

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03/22/2022

March 22 (Openly) – In basement shelters and makeshift clinics, Ukrainian doctors are striving to keep treatment for HIV-positive people on track as Russia’s invasion raises fears that years of progress to combat the virus could be undone. Russian bombing and fighting has shuttered HIV clinics in two Ukrainian cities and forced others to limit their services, a leading nonprofit said, while the supply and distribution of vital antiretroviral drugs is also at risk. “(The war is) making people with HIV more vulnerable to everything,” Valeriia Rachynska, the head of human rights at the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living With HIV group, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a WhatsApp call. Infectious disease experts say the war could unleash a public health crisis both in Ukraine and neighboring countries in HIV, tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis C, and opioid addiction. Research shows interrupting antiretroviral treatment can give rise to drug-resistant strains of HIV, potentially narrowing future treatment options, and also undoes the protection the therapy provides against transmitting the virus.

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