Registered HIV cases
Estimated HIV cases
Newly registered cases in 2012
* National statistical bureau of Moldova, 1 January 2012
** Moldovan Republican AIDS Centre, Ministry of Health, December 2012
*** 'Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic', UNAIDS, August 2010
Bound by Romania in the West and Ukraine in the East, for many years, Moldova was a part of Romania and was ruled by various countries including Poland, Hungary and the Turkish Ottoman Empire. In 1940, Moldova was absorbed by the Soviet Union, only to gain independence as the Republic of Moldova in 1991 with Chisinau (Kishinev) as the capital city. Due to a past of foreign rule, Moldova has a wide range of nationalities living within its borders, including Ukrainians, Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Gagauzians. The language, which is essentially Romanian, is officially called Moldovan. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the population is Eastern Orthodox.
Today, more than 15 years after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Moldova remains the poorest country in Eastern Europe. During its 50 years of Communist rule, Moldova’s economy became highly dependent on the rest of the Soviet Union. As a result, the collapse of the Soviet Union and, later, the sharp decline of the Russian rouble, had disastrous effects on the country’s economy, which, in the last decade, has seen slow but positive growth.
HIV was able to gain a foothold in Moldova thanks to its high population density, social and economic crises, and high rates of migration. The spread of the epidemic in Moldova is, in part, due to the relative political isolation and high population density of Trans-Dniester, a post-war conflict zone that operates as an independent republic, although it remains unrecognised as such by Moldova or the international community.
Similar to elsewhere in the region, the epidemic was initially concentrated among injecting drug users, but is now quickly spreading among the general population via heterosexual transmission. Unfortunately, the Moldovan healthcare system is unable to keep up with the growing epidemic and anti-retroviral treatment is not available in the regions where it is most needed. However, the National HIV Prevention and Control Programme for 2006–2010 stipulates the introduction of methadone maintenance programmes to treat opiate dependence, which have been proven as a key prevention mechanism among injecting drug users. However, access to these services, as well as access to anti-retroviral treatment, by the various target groups is limited.