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Advocacy Groups Say Corruption Leaving Millions of HIV-Positive Ukrainians Without Treatment, AP Reports

July 2, 2012

The Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle reports on how Ukrainian "advocacy groups are accusing the government of embezzling millions of dollars in corrupt drug tenders and thus depriving patients of vital treatment." The news service notes, "Of the estimated 450,000 Ukrainians who are HIV-positive, 70,000 require urgent treatment today, ... [but] only 28,000 are receiving it, leaving over 40,000 of patients without antiretroviral therapy, which could greatly prolong their lives, according to WHO." Igor Pokanevych, head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, said, "More resources should be allocated to fight against AIDS in this country," but the AP reports that "advocacy groups charge that the government in fact has the necessary funds to treat all of its AIDS patients" and "accuse health ministry officials [of] embezzling money that should be used to treat patients by buying AIDS drugs at hugely inflated prices and then pocketing kickbacks."

"Health Ministry officials were not available for comment due to public holidays," the AP writes, adding, "Previously, the Health Ministry has denied accusations of corruption and insisted that major drug buyers like the [Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] ... had better deals because they bought more" drugs. "Ukraine is a leading recipient of aid from [the Global Fund], which covers about 10 percent of the country's needs, the rest coming from state coffers," according to the news service (6/29).

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