The HealthLink Project «Accelerating Ukraine’s Efforts to End HIV»

The HealthLink Project «Accelerating Ukraine’s Efforts to End HIV»

The HealthLink Project «Accelerating Ukraine’s Efforts to End HIV» has started in October 2017. All efforts of the project are focused on accelerating the process of overcoming the HIV epidemic in Ukraine due to an opportunity of testing for HIV quickly and securely and starting the treatment as soon as possible. The project is being implemented by the Alliance for Public Health, in partnership with the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The goal of the project is to improve access of people living with HIV and people at high risk of infection to high-quality services for the infection prevention and treatment and high-quality medical and social support, as well as reduction of stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV from the side of medical workers. In translation from English, the name of the project literally means « link (connection) to health».

HealthLink is a five-year project that will be implemented throughout 2017-2022 in 12 regions of Ukraine: Dnepropetrovsk, Kirovograd, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Odesa, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Kyiv and Kyiv region. Participation in the implementation of the HealthLink is carried out by non-governmental organizations that have passed the competitive selection process, as well as medical institutions of various profiles and levels – from the centers of primary healthcare to clinical hospitals.

The project has two overall directions: 1. Services provision for clients and 2. advocacy activities that are implemented at national and regional levels. Together, these directions will ensure conditions arrangement for sustainable services provision and services to patients with financial support from the state and in partnership with the public sector.

Implementation of the project oversees achievement of certain goals:

  1. The wide-scale introduction of testing for HIV and identification of people living with HIV (PLWH), who are not yet aware of their status.
  2. Simplification of access to treatment for PLWH and enhancement of the services provided to them.
  3. Reduction of stigma and discrimination of PWLH, both among the general population and medical workers.

The project is targeting the general population to identify the maximum number of PLWH. However, sexual partners of PLWH and representatives of risk groups are in special focus.

Services will be provided in peer-to-peer manner, so regional social workers and case managers were selected based on their ability to work with specific target groups.

The project’s key partners in the regions are also representatives of the key communities: LGBT, commercial sex workers and people who inject drugs. Their development and strengthening are the main factors of the project implementation stability.

The HealthLink is one of the medical reform elements; it launches a new model of patients’ assistance, while changing the role of doctors themselves in the fight against HIV epidemic in Ukraine. Now, through family doctors and doctors in hospitals, everybody can receive a service of testing for HIV with rapid tests. Now doctors, when collecting patients’ history, will provide them with recommendations for testing for HIV. In the hospitals, rapid tests will become available (testing takes 15-20 minutes). Immediately after testing a social worker and/or case manager will be able to provide support to a person – they will consult, explain what happened, how to live with HIV, what are the next steps, and why it is so important to start treatment as soon as possible.

Rules of the Motivation Program for Medical workers

Contact: Marina Varban