100% Life, formerly known as the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV, the largest organization for people living with HIV in eastern Europe and central Asia, is marking its 20th anniversary on 5 May. Those 20 years have seen it work on the most challenging issues of the HIV response in Ukraine, on health-care reform and overcoming stigma and discrimination and barriers to accessing health services.
The organization works to provide 100% access to treatment to 100% of Ukrainian people living with HIV. It strives to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV and promotes the rights and freedoms of people living with HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C, including the right to self-determination and the right to make decisions that directly influence their lives.
Beginning with seven members in 2001, today it has grown to 474 members and 15 000 associate members. The first office was opened in Kyiv and now the organization unites 24 regional offices across the country.
In 2004, the organization, together with partners, prevented interruptions of antiretroviral therapy for 137 patients. At the end of 2019, 100% Life was purchasing HIV medicine for 113 000 people.
“Over the years of work, we have purchased 7 230 000 packs of antiretroviral therapy,” said Dmitry Sherembey, head of the 100% Life Coordinating Council. Think about these figures! Behind each of them is a saved life. We are grateful to all our partners who believed in us and continue to believe.”
In 2016, the first 100% Life medical centre was opened in Kyiv. Five years later, three more centres have been opened in Ukraine, in Poltava, Rivne and Chernihiv. These centres are the first clinics created by patients for patients, where services are provided free from stigma and discrimination.
“I have great respect for the struggle that the organization has waged against stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and other vulnerable people. It is thanks to 100% Life that the first opioid substitution therapy programmes for people who use drugs in Ukraine started, sex workers began to speak openly about their rights and people living with HIV had hope for a normal life, medical care and help from the state,” said Raman Hailevich, the UNAIDS Country Director for Ukraine.
In 2016, the organization received the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) award for the best partnership among the 40 countries in which PEPFAR operates.
The same year, there was a breakthrough in state funding of the HIV response, which was increased by 2.3 times. The success of the 20/50/80 transition plan is partly because of the efforts of 100% Life, which worked with the government and advocated for increases in the HIV budget, access to treatment and the optimization of health-care systems.
The struggle of 100% Life won’t stop. New problems come along that need to be addressed.
“We are now facing a new challenge-the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Mr Sherembey. “Our experience gained over the years of interaction with government agencies, partners and donors allows us to contribute to the common cause of the struggle. With the support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and USAID, almost a million pieces of personal protective equipment have been purchased for Ukrainian doctors and social workers, 200 000 tests for COVID-19 have been bought, equipment for oxygen stations at hospitals has been procured, information campaigns on vaccination against COVID-19 have been conducted, and much more is being done.”