AIDS Action Europe together with other NGOs working with and representing the interests of communities of people living with and affected by HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and drug dependence in Central and Eastern European countries, wrote a letter to EU governments and EU institutions. In this letter, we stress the urgency of ensuring continuity of essential life-saving treatments for Ukrainians who have to flee their country due to the ongoing war, with a particular focus on two areas - HIV and opioid dependency.
The present situation in EU countries is characterized by great will of various partners to accommodate the people escaping the war but also major obstacles, especially with regard to access to OAT. Amidst the obstacles faced by people fleeing the war in Ukraine and needing access to life-saving treatment, NGOs call on EU governments and EU institutions to ensure the following urgent measures:
- Organise medical data exchange with a particular focus on HIV and opioid dependence to ensure continuity of services between Ukraine and your countries as well as among your countries;
- As good clinical practice, ensure that previous diagnosis are accepted, people are prescribed the same regimens and take-home dosages of OAT as in Ukraine as much as possible;
- To promote and follow the recommendations being set in the Standardized Protocol for clinical management and Medical Data-Sharing for people living with HIV among refugees from Ukraine8 and to collaborate with WHO on the development of a similar protocol for the refugees from the Ukraine who are OAT patients
- Organize emergency procurement and exchange of medications, as needed, to ensure methadone (tables), buprenorphine, dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy, pediatric antiretroviral medications and similar Ukraine-prevalent treatments are made available for continuation in all border and other neighbouring countries;
- Establish a pool of translation support for clinicians and Ukrainian refugees and utilise automated translation services to overcome barriers in refugee services and clinical settings;
- Support outreach and contacts by HIV and drug treatment experts and NGOs in refugee centres, including the sensitisation of staff and to urgently identify people in need of uninterrupted daily treatment;
- Introduce simplified initiation of essential treatment to all Ukrainians with or without refugee status based on their passport data; and,
- Ensure that monitoring systems and hotlines are available to clinicians and other service providers to immediately solve the health issues affecting Ukrainian refugees.