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Conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of HIV outbreaks throughout the country as displaced HIV-infected people move from war-affected regions to areas with higher risk of transmission, according to analysis by scientists.

Image from a virus testing site for internally displaced people in Ukraine. Image credit: ICF Alliance for Public Health

Ukraine, which has the highest HIV prevalence in Europe, has been at war since 2014 following political unrest in the country.

An international team of scientists led by Oxford University and Public Health England (PHE) analysed genetic sequences to reconstruct viral migration patterns and found that the war-related movement of 1.7 million people was associated with the dissemination of HIV in Ukraine – and that areas with a high prevalence of risky sexual behaviour were the main recipients of the virus.

The research is published in the journal PNAS. The study was part-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Find out more (University of Oxford website)

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