Hundreds of patients receiving drug substitution therapy and NGOs providing harm reduction services are facing harassment and abuse from state authorities in Ukraine following orders from the Ministry of Interior’s drug enforcement department.

Patients dependent on legal substitution therapy to manage their drug dependency are being withheld treatment unless they provide information on their health and HIV status for a ‘voluntary survey’. The crackdown has been steadily building for a number of weeks.

These measures come at a time when the Ukrainian President has approved a new and progressive AIDS law which came into force on 15 January 2011. The law specifically provides for the provision of needle and syringe exchange programmes and substitution therapy in an effort to tackle the HIV epidemic in the country, which is predominantly driven through injecting drug use.

On the basis of these developments, IDPC has decided to write an open letter to call the Ukrainian President to undertake appropriate actions to stop the destabilisation of HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programmes implemented in the country. Our letter follows an initial appeal from the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine to take action.