President of Ukraine
Yanukovych Viktor Fedorovych
11 Bankova str.
01220, Kyiv, Ukraine
Re: Stop the harassment and abuse of substitution therapy and HIV patients in Ukraine
We are concerned about recent information that hundreds of clients receiving opioid substitution therapy and NGOs that are supporting programmes providing opioid substitution therapy in Ukraine are facing harassment and abuse from state authorities after the Ministry of Interior’s drug enforcement department ordered comprehensive inspections of harm reduction programmes on 18 January 2011.
Clients dependent on legal substitution therapy to manage their drug dependency are reportedly being withheld treatment unless they provide information on their health and HIV status for a ‘voluntary survey’. Instead of taking care of patients, doctors have to provide clarifications to prosecutors and police. Documents are being taken from charity organisations and in some cities programmes for drug users have already stopped.
We are extremely concerned that these developments are threatening the health of more than 6,000 substitution clients as this situation is already negatively impacting HIV prevention programmes in the country, especially among people who use drugs, where the burden of HIV and AIDS in Ukraine is most concentrated.
We hereby call on your government to put an end to the harassment and abuse from state authorities against substitution therapy patients and to allow them to receive their treatment freely. We also urge the Ukrainian authorities to stop collecting individuals’ personal data including their HIV status as it constitutes a violation of people’s human rights.
The UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board NGO Delegation
Dr. George Ayala, The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), United States
Dr. Mabel Bianco, Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM), Argentina
Mr. Abdullah Denovan, Jaringan Orang Terinfeksi HIV Indonesia (JOTHI) / Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), Indonesia
Dr. Amira Herdoiza, Corporación Kimirina, Ecuador
Ms. Ebony Johnson, International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW-Global), United States
Ms. Felicita Hikuam, Aids and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), Namibia
Ms. Nadia Rafif, Association de Lutte Contre le Sida (ALCS), Morocco
Ms. Rathi Ramanathan, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), Thailand
Mr. Rhon Reynolds, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, The Netherlands
Mr. Matthew Southwell, International Network of People who Use Drugs, UK