Increasing hepatitis and HIV/AIDS rates among the military is a matter of national security

Volunteers and the public insist on urgent amending of the order №402 of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and starting checking everyone who is subject to mobilization for infectious diseases, such as viral hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS, before they enter the service. This was stated by Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Health, MP Iryna Sysoyenko.

According to her, today the incidence of hepatitis B in Ukraine is 7-9%, while in European countries this percentage is 0.3-0.9%. A significant proportion of patients with hepatitis B are the ATO participants.

In summer 2015 the Global HIV/AIDS Alliance together with TNS sociological company conducted a study in which it was found that the incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) when entering the ATO is 2.5%, and 4.5% – when leaving the service. These data not only reflect the situation in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other law enforcement agencies involved in the ATO, but also testify about the situation in the country as a whole, since a significant number of persons involved in the armed forces and the ATO are the mobilized civilians.

“Unfortunately, the current order of the Defence Ministry of Ukraine №402 does not provide for a mandatory diagnostics for infectious diseases including hepatitis A, B, C and HIV/AIDS when seeing a medical board during mobilization. Lack of diagnosis mechanism does not allow identifying the stages of the abovementioned diseases timely,” said Iryna Sysoyenko.

As noted by the MP, at present those demobilized returning from the service and having diseases contracted while being in the ATO zone cannot prove the fact that they were healthy prior to their service. Today, former soldiers are left alone with their problems connected with the need of immediate treatment of infectious diseases. In fact, the government does not provide those infected with hepatitis or HIV/AIDS with necessary medication. Far from everybody can afford treatment on their own expense, because one needs around 4000-5000 UAH solely in order to start the treatment.

“The increasing hepatitis and HIV/AIDS rates among the military is a matter of national security. We have been talking about this situation together with the volunteers and the NGO “All-Ukrainian human rights organization “Legal Hundred” for more than a year; and it is only now that the Ministry of Defence has publicly acknowledged the problem. If we do not immediately begin dealing with it now, tomorrow it will become an epidemic. Therefore, there is an urgent need to create a financing mechanism for prevention and diagnosis of these infectious diseases and to introduce the appropriate changes to the order №402 of the Ministry of Defence. I call on all public organizations, funds and agencies to accede to solving these issues,” stressed the MP.

Iryna Sysoienko
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