Where can refugees from Ukraine with HIV and/or hepatitis get information and help? Where can people in opioid substitution therapy (OST) programmes get help?
The Swiss AIDS Federation and its member organisations are also keen to help, especially refugees with HIV, hepatitis B or C and from key population groups for HIV prevention.
This website provides information for people who have to flee the country, have already done so, or who wish to help refugees. We cannot supply an exhaustive overview.
A lot of information about healthcare in Switzerland is available on the migesplus.ch web platform, as well as important information intended specifically for Ukrainians seeking refuge.
Do I have to state my HIV status when I enter the country or register with the authorities?
No. And you do not have to provide details of any other treatment, including substitution therapy, either. However, it is useful to state your HIV status so that you can be referred to the appropriate medical care services. Important: An HIV infection does not affect your residence status.
How can I obtain HIV medication or other medical treatment?
Switzerland does not have centres like they do in Ukraine. Instead, care is provided in the infectology departments of hospitals or in specialised medical practices.
S protection status means you are medically insured. You can consult a medical practitioner directly and receive treatment. Your easiest course is to contact a Swiss AIDS Federation sexual health clinic. They will refer you to a specialist.
Do I face any disadvantages if I consult a medical specialist for HIV therapy?
No. In Switzerland, registration does not involve forwarding of the data to bodies outside the health system. Sexual health clinics and doctors are bound by doctor-patient confidentiality. In case of privacy breaches, the legal information office of the Swiss AIDS Federation will help you.
Will I get an employment permit if my positive HIV status is known?
Yes. An HIV infection has no bearing on your legal status, nor therefore on your employment permit. Your S protection status is coupled with an employment permit.
Do I have to disclose my positive HIV status to my employer?
No. Employers are not allowed to ask you about your HIV status. You are not obliged to tell your colleagues either. In case of conflict with your employer, the legal information office of the Swiss AIDS Federation will help you.
Do I have to tell the childcare centre or school that my child has HIV?
No. You don’t have to tell anyone.
Where can I get my hepatitis medication? Where can I begin treatment?
Therapies for hepatitis B or C infections must not be interrupted on any account. In Switzerland, care is provided in the infectology or gastroenterology/hepatology departments of hospitals or in specialised medical practices.
S protection status means you are medically insured. In Switzerland, health insurance covers the cost of hepatitis B or C medication. You can consult a medical practitioner directly and receive treatment. Your easiest course is to contact Swiss Hepatitis (Russian speakers available). They will refer you to a specialist.
Where can I get advice?
The Swiss Hepatitis C Association offers consultations for patients.
The Swiss Hepatitis Association also offers consultations.
How can I get a vaccination against hepatitis A/B?
Where can I get clean syringes for injecting drugs?
Where can I register to get my substitution medication?
Please contact an Infodrog specialist centre. It will provide you with confidential, competent assistance.
How can I get information and treatment for tuberculosis?
The Swiss Lung Association has put together all the key information.
The Swiss Federal Council has decided to grant S protection status to Ukrainians who have fled their country due to the war during their temporary stay in Switzerland. To obtain this status, you must register with a federal asylum centre. You do not need to do this today or tomorrow, but within 90 days’ time.
Detailed information is available from the State Secretariat for Migration SEM.
Switzerland is allowing Ukrainian citizens to enter the country without a biometric travel document or visa, as well as without a Covid-19 vaccination, providing there are no compelling reasons barring entry in individual cases.
For persons in non-Schengen areas who contact a Swiss representation there, the normal entry regulations apply.
Persons who have fled Ukraine may travel for free until at least 31 May 2022 on public transport in Switzerland in the 2nd class on all routes within the area of validity of the GA Travelcard, see also Additional information on the Swiss Alliance Pass.
Ukrainian citizens may stay in Switzerland for three months without a visa or permit, with relatives or private individuals, for instance. In this case, they are not subject to compulsory health insurance. At most, they may hold travel insurance or guest insurance taken out for them by their hosts. Please note: Ukrainian health insurance does not cover medical treatment in Switzerland.
As soon as a person in need of protection registers with a federal asylum centre and submits an application for S protection status, after being assigned to a canton, the latter will register them retroactively for compulsory health insurance from the date they submitted their application. The government provides the cantons with a global lump sum to subsidise the costs for premiums and contributions to costs (franchise and patient’s contributions).
If a person in need requires immediate medical assistance before applying for S protection status and they do not have health insurance, the costs will be borne by the public authorities.
People with HIV
In Switzerland, treatment with antiretrovirals is excellent. It is best to contact the counselling centres for sexual and reproductive health in Switzerland. The staff know which medical specialists in the area can treat people with HIV. Treatment is administered by specialist doctors, hospitals and specialised institutions.
Ukraine has the second-largest HIV epidemic in Europe. It is estimated that 250,000 people have HIV. Almost half of this figure (120,000) are women, approximately 2,900 are children. 150,000 receive antiretrovirals.
People with HIV in Ukraine itself are cared for by international organisations such as GNP+, the Global Network of People with HIV, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) and the Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM). They are in contact with local institutions and lobby the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria to make use of its possibilities.
Information and advice for LGBTQ refugees is offered by the LGBT Helpline and QueerAmnesty. Many local and regional LGBTQ organisations are also eager to assist. Seeking out a checkpoint is recommended for health care needs. They are specialised in matters relating to LGBTQ health.
Drug users and people in OST programmes
Switzerland offers low-threshold access to substitution treatment. Treatment is administered by specialist doctors, hospitals, psychiatric services and specialised institutions. Information on services for drug users and doctors offering substitution therapies is available on the website Infodrog.
Some 350,000 people use injectable drugs, of whom 75% are men and 25% women. Of this number, approximately 200,000 people are addicted to opioids. In January 2021, some 15,000 people were taking part in substitution therapy.
In addition to the 15,000 people currently engaged in substitution therapy, it is estimated that some 185,000 opioid-dependent persons are highly likely to be in a very poor state of health on arriving in host countries should they flee Ukraine.
Many of them are infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C, and frequently also with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.