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Ukraine May Run Out of all HIV Meds in June

Ukraine May Run Out of all HIV Meds in June


Ukrainian Ministry of Health under investigation as treatment supplies dwindle and activists worry about an impending crisis.

HIV activists set up an impromptu cemetery outside the government building in Kyiv to draw attention to dwindling treatment supplies and warned that Ukraine would run out of medicine in June, according to Agent France-Presse.

“We are calling on the prime minister and the government of Ukraine to prevent this catastrophe,” Volodymyr Zhovtyak of the Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS said in a statement. “After all, medication being used by 30,000 HIV-positive people will run out in three weeks.”

Protesters linked the supply shortage to a law passed last year that gave suppliers up to six months to deliver medicines even after being paid in full. Suppliers therefore have until June 10 to deliver supplies meant to arrive in late 2014.

Ukraine has the worst rate of HIV infection in Europe according to the World Health Organization, which says there are 230,000 HIV-infected individuals in Ukraine though the Ukrainian government says there are 124,000 individuals registered for treatment.

The conflict with Russia in East Ukraine and Crimea has affected supplies to treatment clinics across the territory, hitting especially hard in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. Since annexation by Russia, Crimea has also lost its methadone clinics which treated injection drug users under Ukrainian law, now illegal under Russian law.

In an open cabinet meeting with the prime minister, Minister of Health Alexandr Kvitashvili said the company Vektor-Pharma was contracted by the Ministry of Health to deliver medicine from an Indian drug manufacturer to Ukraine, and was paid nearly $2.5 million in December. However, he said, the company has not been in touch since. They were allowed 180 days to deliver the medication, and according to the contract, should deliver by June 19, he said.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk instructed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to “help” the ministry fulfill its obligation to provide the medicine. He then ordered an internal investigation into the conduct of Kvitashvili, Kvitashvili’s deputy Oleksandra Pavlenko, and other officials at the Ministry of Health, demanding verification that officials at the Ministry of Health were meeting proper conduct obligations. 

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