NIAID via Flickr

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it will supply Ukraine with the HIV drugs it needs following Russia’s invasion in February.

In an announcement on 5 April, it committed to giving the country’s HIV patients life-saving antiretroviral drugs for the next 12 months.

A total of 209,000 packs of generic antiretroviral drug TLD have been secured by the WHO alongside Ukrainian authorities, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners.

Hans Henri P. Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: “This war has the potential to undermine the hard-earned progress of recent years on a number of health issues, including HIV. We could not let that happen when Ukraine had begun to turn a corner on HIV.”

It is estimated that around 260,000 people are living with HIV in Ukraine (half of which were taking antiretroviral treatment before the invasion), making it the second largest number in Europe after Russia.

Due to supply issues, the UN’s agency for HIV/AIDS issued a warning in March that Ukraine had less than a month’s worth of these drugs left.

They are needed to control the virus and prevent it spreading to other people, with disruption to treatment potentially resulting in harmful complications.

The WHO confirmed that the first batch of these drugs have crossed the Polish border and are set to be allocated to HIV facilities across Ukraine.