We believe that the end of AIDS is possible if there is more focus on key populations. Our project in Ukraine addresses barriers faced by the LGBT community related to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Driven by community champions, we work to realize a strong regional movement of LGBT people and allies; increase of tolerance towards LGBT people in society; and improved access to quality SRHR and HIV services.
On-going war and low access to health for LGBT people
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine has been growing since the early 1990s among key
populations. The HIV epidemic observed in Ukraine is the second largest HIV epidemic among Eastern European and Central Asian countries. During the last five years, progress in HIV response and a decreasing HIV rate among several key populations has been achieved with technical and financial support from international donors. However, HIV prevalence is estimated at 5.9% among men who have sex with men. Less than 26% of the LGBT community is reached by prevention programmes. Since 2009, the Ukrainian state took financial responsibility for ART but not for the comprehensive country HIV response. In early 2014 Ukraine was hit by socio-economic and political crisis with the occupation and annexation of the Crimea.
The ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine has caused many people to leave non-Ukraine controlled territories amid high violence, crises in access to food and accommodation, and massive human rights violations. It has become hard or almost impossible for key populations to access health services. War and waves of internally displaced people (IDPs) have led to shortages in domestic funding, and pushed HIV response down to the lowest priority for state and local governments.
LGBT people claim a right-based HIV and SRHR response
Bridging the Gaps works with a Theory of Change approach. A Theory of Change is a description of a list of events that is expected to lead to a particular desired outcome. It is a visualization of how change is believed to happen. In 2016, representatives of the LGBT community developed a specified Theory of Change We that consists of short-,medium, and long term outcomes. The Theory of Change describes how we plan to realize a strong regional movement of LGBT people and allies; increase of tolerance towards LGBT people in society; and improved access to quality SRHR and HIV services.
Through innovation and by building on previous work, we will strengthen civil society organisations’ ability to:
1. We facilitate community development
- Conducting a country context analysis on the health and legal situation of LGBT in Ukraine;
- Conducting a needs assessment among LGBT communities of Odessa and Kherson, T*
community in Mykolaiv, MSM in prisons, and MSM/HIV+ in Odessa and Mykolaiv;
- Building the capacity of LGBT organisations on communications and behaviour change theory;
2. We advocate for the continuously strengthening of services and upholding human rights
- Providing legal assistance to the community;
- Organising monthly public actions on family rights, self-care for women and other annual events;
- Organising discussion clubs with media on LGBT issues;
- Organising workshops for police in Odessa and Kherson on LGBT rights;
- Holding regular monitoring of cases of human rights violations and discrimination of LGBT in Mykolaiv, Kherson and Odessa;
- Developing a “Smart Guide” to the MSM Implementation Tool (MSMIT) and advising on quality Russian translation and relevance for dissemination and training in Ukraine.
3. Deliver inclusive, rights-based and gender sensitive services
- Providing access to most needed services to the LGBT communities, including outreach, legal, psychosocial and health services;
- Organising self-help groups for MSM who are living with HIV;
- Organising a meeting with AFEW Ukraine and UNAIDS on young key populations;
- Organising empowerement and support events for LGBT people, family and friends.
4. Foster global and in-country processes and partnerships that reinforce results
- Participating in the development and functioning of the Key Populations Platform.
Our project builds on the strong advocacy work of our partner LiGA to put LGBT people’ health issues on the political agenda and get them included in national plans. Their work is internationally supported by COC and MSMGF.