Eurovision is the biggest song contest in Europe and has been connecting music lovers throughout the continent for over 62 years. This year, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Ukraine spread awareness about HIV during the event from May 4-13, which drew over 60,000 visitors to Kyiv.
AHF Ukraine set up testing locations throughout Kyiv in four Eurovision fan zones, a first for the popular contest. The country team reached over 20,000 people through informational sessions, distributed 30,000 condoms and tested 4,625 people from 37 different countries. Twenty-nine HIV positive clients were identified, of whom 26 were immediately linked to care.
“This was truly a team effort and a historic opportunity for us to raise awareness about HIV rapid testing, condoms and treatment in an accessible and fun way that is appealing to young people as well as the general public across Ukraine, the European region and beyond,” said Sergiy Fedorov, AHF Ukraine Country Program Director.
AHF Ukraine trained 24 lay community counselors to work throughout the fan zones and recruited 250 Eurovision volunteers to help distribute over 200,000 promotional health materials to 18 locations around Kyiv. The materials included information on proper condom use, HIV facts and the importance of testing.
“Ukraine is committed to the good health of its citizens, and we realize the importance of prevention as the most effective way to have a healthy nation,” Acting Minister of Health Uliana Suprun said. “HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections are real challenges for the public health system of the country, and all of these diseases can be prevented by following simple rules, such as using condoms and being tested regularly.”
Ukraine has one of the highest rates of new HIV infections in Europe. In 2015 and 2016, there were over 15,000 and 17,000 new cases reported, respectively. Of those, most newly infected are young people between the ages of 15 and 30.
AHF has been operating in Ukraine since 2009 and has 26,542 people in care.