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Roman Ivasiy: "With therapy, a person with HIV can live a full life"

Roman Ivasiy: "With therapy, a person with HIV can live a full life"

The radio ‘Kyiv’ program hosted by a leading psychologist Ivan Storchak broadcasts a conversation with the head of health care department of "Fulcrum" Roman Ivasiy and tester specialist in FriedlyDoctor network, which funded by Elton John AIDS Foundation and French Foundation Sidaction.

Roman Ivasiy: "With therapy, a person with HIV can live a full life"

Often, media confuse HIV and AIDS. Can you explain the difference 

- Not only media, but majority of people. Usually two abbreviations are perceived as two separate infections, but these are completely different things. HIV - a human immunodeficiency virus - is a pathogen that causes HIV-infection and directly affects the human body. This infection occurs in several stages and the final stage is AIDS - acquired immune deficiency syndrome - which may precede death, if a person does not take treatment against HIV-infection. However, in modern conditions, the development of this condition is not possible if a person takes treatment for HIV, which is called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). 

What are the ways of HIV prevention and treatment in Ukraine? 

- The single and effective way to prevent HIV is to reduce risky behavior and there are several ways to achieve this. The most universal and effective one is the use of barrier contraceptives - condoms during all types of sexual intercourse. The newer way is pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is more commonly known as PrEP, - this is when people, who are at risk of catching HIV from their sexual partners or while injecting drugs, are constantly taking pills that make it impossible to get infected even if HIV is released into the body. There is also post-exposure prophylaxis, when the drug is taken within three months after an unprotected contact to prevent HIV infection that could have entered the human body. The only one way of treatment is to take antiretroviral therapy on a permanent basis (1 pill per day), and this way a person can live a full life and even to give birth to healthy children. 

Do we have to be afraid of HIV and HIV-positive people? 

Absolutely not. By now, science has made significant progress in the treatment of HIV infection, and people who receive treatment can reduce the concentration of the virus in their bodies to the lowest levels that are not detected by modern diagnostic methods. This is called ‘undetectable’ viral load. In this case, a person can not transmit the virus to other people, even to their children during conception and pregnancy. But additional prophylaxis (condoms) should be used, as this condition can disappear after misuse of the drug or missing the dose. But even if a person does not take the treatment, there is no risk of HIV transmission for relatives or the environment when sharing a living space (besides the unprotected sexual contact). It is safe to share bathroom, utensils, to kiss, to hug, to sleep in one bed, to live and work in one space. 

What are the most common ways in which HIV is transmitted? 

In Ukraine, as in the whole world, unprotected sex between men and women prevails. On the second place is sharing equipment for injecting drugs, on the third - unprotected sexual intercourse between two men. Then mother-to-child transmission, if a mother does not take ART. 

How available are medicines for HIV-positive in Ukraine? 

HIV medications in Ukraine are absolutely free and available in regional AIDS prevention and control centers. They are issued after registration in the center and encryption of personal information. Also, all medical check-ups and consultations of related specialists are free of charge, in case of a specific health need, even if not related to HIV infection. 

How available are medicines for HIV-positive in Ukraine? 

HIV medications in Ukraine are absolutely free and available in regional AIDS prevention and control centers. They are issued after registration in the center and encryption of personal information. Also, all medical check-ups and consultations of related specialists are free of charge, in case of a specific health need, even if not related to HIV infection.

The "Territory of Love" project is implemented under support of Internews - an international nonprofit media organization with administrative centers in California, Washington and London. 

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