On May 18-19, the USAID RESPOND project held a Community of Practice meeting for its partner NGOs implementing an intervention aimed at improving the enrollment of people who inject drugs (PWID), and their sexual partners in HIV testing services in high HIV-burden regions of Ukraine (Dnipropetrovska, Khersonska, Kyivska, Mykolayivska, and Odeska oblasts and the city of Kyiv).
This intervention titled Partner’s Health was developed and piloted by the RESPOND Project as a much-needed and unique tool to fill the detection and testing gaps in the continuum of HIV services. Social and medical workers explained that sexual partners of PLHIV and particularly, PWID had always been a hard group to reach due to several reasons, just to name a few: self-stigmatization of PWID and fear of disclosure, false assumptions that registration with AIDS services requires registration with police or that ART may cause death, fear of registering with AIDS service as an overwhelmingly long, humiliating, painful, and expensive process, lack of motivational counseling skills among social workers, etc. The Partner Health intervention offers tools to overcome these challenges and enables PLHIV and PLWID to build healthy relationships, disclose their HIV status, and link partners with HIV to treatment and care.
Since the start of the Partner’s Health intervention for sexual partners of PWID in August 2015, a total of 4,138 people were tested for HIV, and 284 (7%) tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 194 (68%) registered with AIDS services and 98 (50.5%) started ART.
Since the start of implementing the Partner’s Health intervention targeted at PLHIV sexual partners in August 2015, a total of 5,306 clients were tested for HIV, and 646 (12%) of them tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 485 (75%) were registered with AIDS services, and 199 (41% of those registered) started ART.
RESPOND handed over Partner’s Health intervention to the Charitable Organization “All-Ukrainian Network of PLHIV” by conducting a training for the Network’s central office staff and regional branches and equipping the Network with implementation manuals and facilitation guides. The Partner’s Health model has been included in the application to the Global Fund for 2018-2020.