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HIV activist battles drugs and discrimination in Ukraine

Posted on February 10, 2017

Source: Reuters

HIV activist battles drugs and discrimination in Ukraine

"Growing up in eastern Ukraine, Svitlana Moroz said she was a typically reckless teenager who believed she'd live forever.

She shared needles with friends to inject opium, had unprotected sex with a guy her own age, and five months after hooking up with him, learned she was five months pregnant and HIV-positive. He tested positive a week later.

It was 1998 and information in her native Donetsk was hard to come by. Before her diagnosis, the 19-year-old Moroz said she had only heard about AIDS in one biology lesson.

'My perception was that it was far from me, just in other countries," Moroz said in Bangkok, where she spoke at a public health conference on a panel about people living with HIV.

'I heard a little bit from friends who used drugs, that more and more of them were diagnosed with HIV, but I was thinking, "I don't use drugs so much. It's only for those who did it every day."'

Moroz is now a leading HIV activist in the Ukraine - an Eastern European country of 45 million people with one of the world's fastest growing HIV epidemics.

It is home to about 220,000 people living with HIV."

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