Religious leaders and faith-based organizations reinforce their role in the AIDS response amid Ukraine's humanitarian crisis

13 February 2015

Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO), a forum of 19 confessions and faiths united, met in Kiev, Ukraine, to highlight the urgent needs of people affected by HIV in eastern Ukraine.

With support from UNAIDS, the meeting was attended by senior religious leaders and faith-based organizations from 19 different confessions and religious faiths, as well as people living with HIV, civil society, government officials and other national stakeholders.

In his opening remarks, the Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, called for urgent and coordinated efforts across all faiths to support people affected by HIV during the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Nataliya Nizova, Director of the Ukrainian Center for Socially Dangerous Disease Control of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, presented the latest data on HIV in Ukraine. After a promising trend in the reduction of new HIV infections in 2013, Ukraine reports an alarming renewed increase in HIV infections. In 2014, 18 781 new HIV infections were officially reported, with over 55 700 people receiving antiretroviral therapy and over 8000 people receiving opioid substitution therapy. Ms Nizova also highlighted the urgent risk of treatment interruptions facing 13 500 people living with HIV in the conflict-torn regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.

In 2005, AUCCRO developed a common HIV policy for churches and religious organizations and established a partnership dialog with governmental institutions and nongovernmental organizations to advance the AIDS response in Ukraine.

The meeting participants agreed that the military conflict in eastern Ukraine promoted an urgent review of AUCCRO’s AIDS strategy in order to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and health situation facing people affected by HIV.

The forum adopted a resolution that calls on members and faith-based organizations to consolidate efforts and strengthen partnerships in support of the national AIDS response.


"We consider the HIV epidemic as one of the major challenges for our society in this critical time. During this humanitarian crisis, we confirm our commitment to the AIDS response and to doubling our support for people affected by HIV."

Archbishop Yevstratiy (Zorya), Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate

"The work of the All-Ukrainian Council is a beacon, shining light and giving hope to people living with HIV in eastern Ukraine in need of emergency support. We will not reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic without a renewed partnership with religious leaders and faith-based organizations across eastern Europe and central Asia and around the world."

Vinay Saldanha, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“The history of the AIDS response in Ukraine is the story of people fighting for their lives. These are people like me that today, more than ever, look to churches and religious leaders for guidance and support.”

Dima Sherembey, Head of the Ukrainian Community Advisory Board, All-Ukrainian Patients Association