MSF opens first HIV/AIDS clinic in breakaway region of Transnistria

HIV prevalence in Transnistria is four times higher than in Moldova, according to official statistics.
Due to the international isolation of Transnistria, its healthcare system and population has been largely denied access to Moldovan government health funds/medicines, particularly ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS. Tiraspol - On Wednesday, August 8, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) started to provide treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in the unrecognized breakaway region of Transnistria, Moldova. MSF began enrolling patients before the Out-Patient Department was actually finished and, in only four weeks, our doctors and nurses, alongside the Ministry of Health personnel, have already seen over 90 HIV positive patients. As a consequence, 26 of them have been initiated onto life-prolonging anti-retroviral treatment (ARV). "Already we have reason for optimism as, between our doctors here and the doctors working with HIV/AIDS in Chisinau [Moldova's capital], there is a growing sense of collegiality and sharing of information," said Mark Walsh, MSF Head of Mission, during the official opening ceremony. "There is, however, a long way to go. The Moldovan authorities should be held accountable for providing equitable access to all HIV/AIDS resources that they have been provided by the international community. "In addition, until donors begin committing resources to independent organizations to identify and run projects here the health of the population will remain in a precarious state." Due to the international isolation of Transnistria, its healthcare system and population has been largely denied access to Moldovan government health funds/medicines, particularly ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS. This is in spite of the fact that Moldova is the recipient of funds to cover the whole population, including the breakaway region, and that the prevalence of HIV in Transnistria is four times higher than in Moldova, according to official statistics. "People in Transnistria should have the same access to quality HIV/AIDS care as their Moldovan counterparts, regardless of the unresolved political situation", said Rony Kampal, medical doctor currently working in the project for MSF. "We estimate that in Transnsitria there are between 1,000 and 1,500 people that are HIV over a population of about half million people, and ARV can prolong their life if provided adequately." Yesterday opening ceremony was attended by many people including Igor Smirnov, the President of the unrecognized Republic, Mr Ivan Tkachenko, Minister of Health for Transnistria and organizations representing people living with HIV/AIDS from both sides of the border.