"Emergency" – Support for people living with HIV from Ukraine in Poland
Foundation for Social Education (FES) (www.fes.edu.pl)
Magdalena Ankiersztejn-Bartczak, CEO, Foundation for Social Education, Poland
Although Ukraine and Poland are neighbouring countries, they are very different in terms of the HIV epidemic. In Poland, 15 000 people living with HIV are being treated. In Ukraine, there are 250 000 people living with HIV. In Poland women constitute less than 30% of people with HIV, in Ukraine nearly half (47%). In Poland we have 100 infected children, in Ukraine 3000. However, Polish organisations supporting people arriving from Ukraine have no support from the Global Found and rely on very limited funds from projects. Since 24 February, the Foundation for Social Education has become the main contact for people from Ukraine who are living with HIV and/or using substitution therapy. In addition to our daily work, we respond to all enquiries from individuals and institutions. After the first weeks of providing spontaneous help, we aim to create a more systemic care for Ukrainian people living with HIV in Poland, covering a comprehensive package of support including testing, psychological, social and legal support.
The overall aim of the project is to support people living with HIV who migrated to Poland from Ukraine as a consequence of the war through a systemic package of services covering HIV testing, counselling, linkage to care and treatment and other support services.
The services will be provided at FES through an interdisciplinary team of specialists (psychologist, therapist, lawyer, social worker) working in Polish-Ukrainian pairs to reduce any language barriers, including a Polish specialist who can provide guidance regarding other health system related or structural questions about the Polish system. Comprehensive material will be developed to provide information about where in Poland to access support for a issues related to employment, housing, schools and childcare. The service will be coordinated and implemented by experienced specialists from the Foundation for Social Education who have worked with people living with HIV in Poland for many years and Ukrainian experts from the Alliance for Public Health who are currently living in Poland. The project will ensure linkage to care across the entire country and will serve as a model for the provision of support also in other Polish cities. The project aims to reach 1000 people with HIV testing, care, support and information; free HIV self-tests will be available.
The project will result in the creation of a free comprehensive support service for Ukrainian people living with HIV in Poland, including a dedicated website describing the project in Polish and Ukrainian. The support offered will cover access to psychological, social and legal support, including HIV testing and linkage to care. The model is envisioned to serve as a model for the provision of emergency care in other settings.