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IAS calls for an end to harassment, intimidation and imprisonment of HIV professionals
Date:9/3/2010

3 September 2010 (Geneva, Switzerland) Following the imprisonment of Maxim Popov in April 2010, sentenced to 7 years jail primarily for the promotion of HIV prevention efforts in Uzbekistan, the International AIDS Society (IAS) notes with alarm the detention of a medial practitioner working in HIV prevention in Ukraine. Dr. Illya Podolyan, a 62-year old physician providing opioid substitution therapy (OST) for people using drugs, was detained on 28 May 2010 by Odessa police and charged with alleged crimes relating to drugs trafficking.

"This arrest is yet another example of committed professionals being subjected to harassment, detention and even imprisonment as a consequence of implementing best practice HIV prevention and care," commented Professor Elly Katabira, President of the IAS. "Implementing evidence-based responses should never be a crime, and this arrest is especially disturbing in a country such as Ukraine, which has in recent times seen the start of a turn around in its HIV epidemic due to improved policies and the efforts of professionals such as Dr Podolyan."

Substitution therapy is highly effective at reducing the spread of HIV in epidemic's such as Ukraine's which are fueled primarily by injecting drug use. Substitution treatment programmes and the use of methadone and buprenorphine, drugs prescribed by Dr. Podolyan for his patients, are legal in Ukraine and are included in the National Programme for HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support for 2009-2013, approved by law in February 2009.

In practice, however, medical and other health personnel involved in providing substitution therapy are subject to criminal prosecution, harassment and intimidation. Dr. Podolyan's arrest is unfortunately consistent with the systematic and widespread harassment of OST professionals and patients carried out by Ukrainian law enforcement officers across the country.

The IAS strongly urges the Ukrainian government t
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Contact: Sian Bowen
sian.bowen@iasociety.org
41-22-7100-864
International AIDS Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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