On 29 November 2019, SkyTest (#SkyTest), a traditional outreach event commemorating the World AIDS Day took place near Kyiv’s highest ferris wheel at Kontraktova square. It is the second year that this event is held by the Alliance for Public Health, Public Health Center of the MoH and partners from civil society.
During the event, everyone interested — media people, students, passers-by — could take free rapid testing for HIV using innovative saliva tests (no blood drops). Every person having taken the test got a ticket for free ride on the ferris wheel. Thus, all who wanted could take not just the innovative rapid test for HIV that did not require even a finger stick, but also receive a professional consultation of the doctor right in a ferris wheel cabin, at the height of 43 metres, while enjoying beautiful views of the winter Kyiv from the bird-view height.
During the Sky Test, a press briefing took place involving representatives of public structures, charitable and civic society organizations, leading infection disease doctors and HIV positive people.
Volodymyr Kurpita, Director General of the Public Health Centre of the MoH of Ukraine: “In the last ten years, technological progress has allowed setting a diagnosis in 15 minutes. However, it is not just about technology, it is also about people — their desires, possibilities and fears. Do not be afraid of testing! Doctors know how to help if the test is positive”.
During the event at Kontraktova square, about 300 people (mostly young students) took rapid tests for HIV in the setting of the special mobile ambulatories. Everyone could receive — without any fee — doctor’s consultations, the main HIV/AIDS protection means (condoms) and informational materials concerning the importance of timely HIV testing.
“Since the beginning of 2019, under our programs of HIV prevention for most-at-risk populations, a total of 407 thousand people took free testing in all regions of Ukraine, which has allowed receiving 9.3 positive results (2.3%). However, more than 80 thousand Ukrainians living with HIV are not even aware of their status. At the same time, testing programs are becoming more accessible. For a long time already, you do not to go to a specialized healthcare facility to get tested. A rapid test can be taken on one’s own, using saliva, without a single drop of blood. For Alliance for Public Health, improving accessibility of testing for HIV is a priority, and we are glad that the state has been paying increasingly more attention to prevention and testing programs; that is a sort of a major test for our Government. Take the test!”, urges Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Health.
The event was organized by the Alliance for Public Health, Public Health Center of the MoH of Ukraine together with the ACO “Convictus Ukraine”, ICF “Drop-in Center” and CO “ALLIANCE.GLOBAL”.
Ukraine ranks among the top European countries in terms of the number of HIV-positive people. According to expert estimates, 244 thousand HIV-positive people lived in Ukraine as of 2018. One in a hundred of people aged 15 to 49 is infected with HIV, which is among the highest rates in the countries of the region. As of 01.10.2019, 136,849 HIV-positive people were registered at health care facilities in the government-controlled territories of Ukraine (i.e. 326 per 100 thousand people) which means that almost a half of the estimated number of people living with HIV are not aware of their HIV status. That is why testing is just as important component in fighting the spread of HIV and an effective tool for fast-tracking 90-90-90 goals as prevention and treatment. It was assisted testing by the Alliance that has allowed reaching to almost 4 times more people in 2019 (407.3 thousand) compared with 2014 (113.4 thousand). This has resulted in getting 3.3 times more positive results. Among the new clients of prevention project, percentage of positive results of HIV testing is 5 times higher than among the “old” ones, which testifies for efficiency of the implemented activities and highlights new challenges in prevention programs.