“I am HIV positive; I already had HIV when I joined a volunteer battalion to fight separatists in eastern Ukraine,” says Ukrainian war veteran Vasyl. “I had no fear for my life. I had nothing to lose.”
Vasyl is not his real name, but this is the story of a man with HIV who volunteered for the front line and was shocked by the level of ignorance that other soldiers had about his virus.
When he travelled east, Vasyl tore up his HIV status certificate. The only person he told was the commanding officer of his combat unit fighting Russian-backed rebels.
“My commander told me to write ‘B20’ on my left hand when I’d go into battle. If I were wounded or killed, medics would know what I had.”
They would know what B20 meant, but his fellow soldiers did not.
While Vasyl kept his HIV positive status quiet, he was startled to find many of his comrades exchanging food or $10 in return for sex near the front line.
Was the front line becoming a hotspot for spreading HIV, hepatitis C and other infectious and sexually transmitted…