Ukraine continues to face one of the worst HIV epidemics in Europe. To date, prevention efforts there have largely consisted of information dissemination and needle/syringe exchange and distribution. In an effort to introduce new, culturally relevant and effective prevention strategies into Ukraine, a team of medical anthropologists and sociologists from the U.S. and Ukraine worked with local HIV activists in Ukraine to create and pilot novel, bottom-up interventions for drug users based on U.S. behavior change theories. This applied research project positions local HIV service providers and their clients as the true experts, and gives them the flexibility and support to design interventions suited to local drug use and law enforcement contexts, economic conditions, and cultural norms. This talk will describe the contours of this four-year project, present the study results (can local HIV activists design intervention programs that effectively prevent HIV transmission?), and propose future implications of this novel, anthropologically-driven approach to HIV prevention. Phillips will also describe a current study that emerged from this project: new research on gendered access to medical services in Ukraine among women who use drugs.
Sarah D. Phillips, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, Director at the Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington