The regional online platform of the public organization “VIRUS OFF” is designed as a resource center for HIV/AIDS and KP in EECA to accumulate and systematize information on expanding access to treatment, as well as to produce our own thematic materials based on gathered information and advocacy activity concerning access to the treatment, which is implemented by the forces of different communities in the EECA region. Among other things the platform is going to publish epidemiological data; statistical information (PLHIV number, number of new infections, number of PLHIV on ART); strategic and methodological documents on HIV/AIDS (reports, recommendations, guidelines, etc.); information on projects in the field of HIV/AIDS, implemented in the specific country both at the expense of internal and external resources; information on key players in the field of HIV/AIDS at the national, regional and international levels.At the end of 2018, there were an estimated 1.7 million people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It is one of two regions in the world where the HIV epidemic continues to grow rapidly, with a 27% annual increase in HIV infections from 2010 to 2018. In 2018, there were about 150,000 new cases of HIV infection. In the same year, 38,000 people died as a result of AIDS. By the end of 2018, 72% of people living with HIV knew their HIV status.
The vast majority of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia live in Russia (70%), where the number of new infections is on the rise, followed by Ukraine. Outside of Russia, the level of new HIV infections is stable.
The epidemic in the region is concentrated predominantly among key populations. Unprotected sex is causing an increase in HIV infections and is currently the leading cause of transmission in some countries. In addition, the growing HIV epidemic among transgender people, gay men, and other men who have sex with men is not well researched. It is not recognized in several national responses to HIV.
Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and key populations remain high. New conservative legislation introduces additional restrictions on same-sex relationships, sex work, and drug use, which may further hinder key populations from accessing HIV services. Prevention programs are under threat as international support for the HIV response declines and domestic funding for HIV prevention falls behind.
Lack of community problems recognition by EECA countries, lack of reliable data on the HIV/AIDS epidemic among key populations leads to insufficient policy development and minimal community participation in planning, implementation, and monitoring of HIV/AIDS programs, which does not correspond with the interests and needs of communities and causes response inefficiency to the epidemic. Lack of political will and leadership, the unpreparedness of states to finance and ensure the sustainability of evidence-based programs for key populations, against the background of a significant reduction in international funding and insufficient funding available in the EECA region as a whole leads to loss of results and causes a new turn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The dramatic decline in Global Fund support has led to serious financial gaps in HIV and AIDS programs in EECA, which governments are not ready to help out. As Global Fund’s support to the EECA region declines, it is imperative to ensure that the willingness, desire, and ability of the country to assume greater responsibility for HIV and AIDS programming should be taken into account during the transition period to domestic funding. If the cut-off of Global Fund’s support is not accompanied by reliable government sustainability plans and financial commitments, years of investment will be jeopardized and the health and well-being of marginalized communities will become at risk.