Take care of yourself: the world celebrates Health Day

April 7 is World Health Day, established by the World Health Organization in 1950. This date has become a tradition aimed at drawing attention to global health problems and mobilizing efforts to improve the health of all mankind. Virusoff reminds us that taking care of one’s health is not only an individual responsibility but also an important step toward social well-being.

World Health Day is dedicated to current issues and challenges facing global health. Various slogans remind us all of the importance of health in our lives and spur action to improve the health of people around the world. One of the key challenges facing global health is the fight against socially significant diseases, including HIV.

An HIV test is an important step in taking care of your health and the health of others. Everyone who has been in a situation where they could be exposed to HIV should be tested. This includes those who have had unprotected sex with a partner of unknown status, injected drugs, and those who have been diagnosed with hepatitis B and C or other sexually transmitted diseases.

It is important to remember when to take an HIV test. It is recommended to take the test for the first time 1-3 months after a possible risk situation. If the result is negative, you should repeat the test after 3 and 6 months. HIV test detects antibodies to the virus, and it takes time for the body to form them.

Dynamics of HIV testing in Ukraine

According to the Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, in 2023 the volume of HIV testing services increased by 39.6%, reaching 2,250,940 people (compared to 1,612,841 in 2022). At the same time, the number of rapid test screenings almost doubled to 1,257,646 (vs. 647,949 in 2022), while the number of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) screenings was almost unchanged (937,892 in 2022 vs. 993,294 in 2023).

The percentage of positive HIV tests nationally in 2023 was 0.63% (compared to 1% in 2021 and 2022). During 2023, 11,658 HIV cases (28.4 per 100,000 population) were detected and officially registered, compared to 12,212 cases (28.9 per 100,000 population) in 2022.

Introduction of a pre-exposure prophylaxis program in Ukraine

In addition to regular testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV provided by physicians is also being implemented in Ukraine. The national PrEP program provides antiretroviral drugs free of charge to people at high risk of HIV infection and is available in every region of Ukraine in government-controlled areas.

At the end of 2023, the PrEP program reached 13,147 people (up 4,072 from 9,075 at the end of 2022). Among program clients in 2023, 41% were men who have sex with men; 19% were people who inject drugs; and 1% were sex workers/employees.

HIV treatment in Ukraine

Despite the challenges, activities continue to expand antiretroviral therapy (ART) and maintain those already receiving it on treatment. As of January 1, 2024, there are 118,348 PLHIV receiving ART in Ukraine. 85% of patients in the controlled area who started on ART continue treatment for at least 12 months. In 2023, 82% of HIV-infected patients were covered by viral load examinations. These surveys provide an assessment of treatment efficacy. They report that in 2023, 95% of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy had an undetectable viral load (viral suppression level below 1,000 copies/mL). For the 4 quarters of 2023, 68,734 patients on ART met the criteria for clinical stability, and antiretrovirals for a treatment period of more than 6 months were given to 34,282 people.

We all aspire to a healthy future where everyone has access to quality health care and care for their health. And on April 7, and any other day, let us continue to act together so that everyone can live a full and healthy life.