AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Ukraine recently took the “Always in Fashion” theme for the International Condom Day (ICD) to the next level, turning the commemoration into a weeklong event to raise awareness around access and use of condoms.
For this effort, AHF Ukraine joined Ukraine Fashion Week (UFW), a trendsetting event that draws extensive national and international media coverage. An estimated 25 million people viewed ICD events, which included HIV express testing, safe sex lectures and classes on proper condom use that were attended by over 1,000 people.
Unprotected sex is the primary method of HIV transmission in Ukraine, with most new infections affecting people ages 25 to 49. Condoms are also very expensive, which makes the problem worse. Currently only international organizations are distributing condoms free of charge in the country.
“Every year we’re making condoms more and more accessible, and we are distributing them for free,” said AHF Europe Bureau Chief Zoya Shabarova. “Over the last four years we distributed almost 2 million condoms in Ukraine.”
To spark interest and awareness, renowned Ukrainian designer Oleksiy Zalevskiy turned the “Always in Fashion” theme into reality by creating five unique designs comprised of 5,000 condoms.
“UFW is an event that sets trends and directions for fashion development. I want condoms to become a fashion trend in Ukraine, that’s why I’m eagerly joining International Condom Day – to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Zalevskiy.
By week’s end, AHF Ukraine had distributed 36,000 condoms and provided 322 HIV tests. But with all the good AHF and other organizations do, Shabarova says it simply isn’t enough.
“Today we call on the Ukrainian government to start procuring and distributing condoms for free to prevent HIV transmission,” said Shabarova. “These condoms should be widely available for free to those who cannot afford to pay and [available] in all health care facilities that provide care to vulnerable groups.”