The ‘Here I Am’ campaign, a global call on world leaders to save millions of lives by supporting a fully funded Global Fund, has been releasing a number of engaging video testimonials to highlight the positive impact that the Global Fund has had in fighting AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The videos account first hand the struggles people have gone through when faced with either of these three diseases but also, importantly, the fact that many of them now have the help and hope they need to overcome them and enable them to live healthy and happy lives.  By featuring the stories from all over the world of those directly affected and the turnaround in their fortunes thanks to the Global Fund support, and combining these with campaign ambassadors, online actions, and on-the-ground mobilisations, the campaign is aiming to,

build the collective power to end three of the world’s most deadly diseases.

One of these powerful testimonies comes from Yevhen Selin from Ukraine. Yevhen tells of his experiences as a teenager with injecting drugs and addiction and how this led to both periods in jail as a young man. Having served half a sentence, Yevhen left prison determined to give up drugs. His testimonials tells of how he struggled at first, consulting various doctors, attending detox programmes, and asking for help in narcological dispensaries and addiction clinics. Eventually Yevhen heard about substitution therapy, or opiate substitution therapy.

Opiate substitution therapy is directly supported by the Global Fund in order to cut HIV transmission and, significantly, help people like Yevhen, who are often forgotten, to move on and live a life in which he can find love and work, many of the things that we take for granted. There are thousands of others like Yevhen, in Ukraine alone there are estimated to be 290,000 people who inject drugs (PWID) and only 6,517 are able to access opiate substitution therapy.

Many governments are reluctant to invest in harm reduction programmes, thereby exacerbating rates of HIV. The Global Fund plays a unique role in reaching out to people where governments are not by providing imperative support and funding for stigma reduction, community mobilisation, the strengthening of civil society and political advocacy. This not only helps to reach the 290,000 PWID in Ukraine but also facilitate a dialouge that may encourage national governments to support harm reduction programmes so critical in combating HIV transmission.

This significance of this action is further highlighted when considering that those with HIV are at greater risk of contracting TB.  Emphasising the significance of this link, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that HIV is the main reason for failure to meet Tuberculosis (TB) control targets in high HIV settings.

In attempting to curb the widespread problem of HIV and TB (and drug-resistant TB) in the EECA region it is crucial that there is ongoing investment and support into harm reduction programmes so that individuals receive the help they need. The EU and national governments must financially commit to the Global Fund to ensure that support continues, thereby saving thousands of lives.

You can watch all the video testimonials, including Yevhen Selin’s, here. You can also take further action by clicking here. The campaign asks you to sign a petition to ask world leaders to fully fund the Global Fund and save millions of lives as well as asking you to share the campaign with family and friends.