Thursday, February 3, 2011

Countdown to DM: Ukraine

Hey, DMers! Since we are getting SO CLOSE to Dance Marathon (our 50 Days event is next week!), I thought I'd start featuring a new country every week to show what the AIDS epidemic looks like around the world (our DM theme this year!).

When many people think of AIDS, they think of Africa. But today, the epidemic is spreading fastest in post-Soviet countries in Eastern Europe. For example, Ukraine is currently experiencing an epidemic among intravenous drug users in the 20 to 39 age range.

In Ukraine, a bad economy has created a young generation of people without hope for the future. They turn to drugs, especially liquid heroin, for distraction. The liquid heroin is cheap, and users share needles to feel part of a "brotherhood." The Ukrainians are unprepared for such an epidemic. The government is poor and has no experience with something like HIV and AIDS.

The infection rate of intravenous drug users in Russia and China was 70 percent in 2002.

However, programs have sprouted up encouraging the use of clean needles and condoms. These programs also offer counseling, which is crucial in a culture where no one talks about AIDS.

Source: A Closer Walk, 2002.

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