Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and independence in 1991, Ukraine has struggled to establish a viable private economy and to provide health and education services to its population. HIV/AIDS rates remain high, as stigma and discrimination presents major hurdles for all HIV/AIDS programs that focus on prevention, treatment and care. Myths regarding HIV transmission, lack of testing and treatment, irresponsible media reporting on the epidemic, and social fears have contributed to its spread in the country.
IRD in Ukraine: IRD began its work in Crimea, Ukraine, in 2002; by 2004, IRD’s distribution of health and education assistance expanded to 183 Crimean institutions – including 76 non governmental institutions, 12 schools, nine boarding houses, four orphanages, 25 departments of labor and social protection, one Detention Center, two Village Councils, one higher educational institution, and 53 medical institutions, reaching more than one hundred thousand formerly displaced and other vulnerable persons.
In September 2004, the USAID mission for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova awarded $1.2 million to IRD to implement a four-year project intended to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in Crimea and Donetsk. IRD programs support interventions to give voice to those affected by HIV/AIDS; promote a supportive environment through strategic and targeted communications; and protect the rights of those affected by HIV/AIDS. IRD has launched a communications campaign, developed an extensive network of peer educators and equipped them with the capacity to generate support and public acceptance for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The IRD Crimea office also has distributed custom designed wheelchairs and walkers donated by U.S. wheelchair manufacturing company “ROC Wheels” through Hope Heaven International to 59 children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy living in four regions of Crimea: Simferopol, Bakhchisaray, Dzhankoy and Belogorsk regions. IRD/Crimea worked in close cooperation with the Crimean authorities and Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to identify, select, and organize all the children with CP diagnosis who were in great need of wheelchairs. Following the successful distribution of the wheelchairs, IRD/Crimea in coordination with Hope Heaven, International held a training session in children rehabilitation.
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