Monday, October 23, 2006

AIDS epidemic in Ukraine

This article illustrates the heartbreaking consequences of trafficking in drugs and humans, and the courage of a group of women determined to fight back.

Rampant drug abuse and sex trafficking have made Ukraine the site of Europe's worst AIDS epidemic ...

In 1991, just five years after the catastrophic Chornobyl nuclear explosion, Ukrainians gained independence from oppressive Soviet rule ... It didn't take long for criminal networks to flood the country with illegal drugs, readily available through the porous borders of Central Asian countries that connect the heroin fields of Afghanistan with Ukraine. ... The crime rings also [lured millions of desperate and unemployed women] into the sex trade via bogus job offers and sold [them] into slavery in Turkey, Russia, Germany and other countries.

... today Ukraine is not only battling drug and human trafficking epidemics but also an escalating HIV epidemic. ... A recent United Nations AIDS report predicted that by 2010, six per cent of Ukrainians will have HIV. (In Canada the rate is 0.3 per cent.) ... Ukrainian women account for 40 per cent of those infected, and without access to antiretroviral drugs, these women are at risk of having babies born with HIV, too.

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