01/16/2012 09:35 EST | Updated 03/17/2012 05:12 EDT

Global health fund urges Ukraine to step up fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic

KIEV, Ukraine - The head of a global health fund is urging Ukraine to step up efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Europe's largest.

Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria called on the Ukrainian authorities Monday to expand opiate substitution therapy and ensure HIV/AIDS treatment in prison.

The Global Fund has earmarked $86 million for HIV prevention and treatment programs in Ukraine in 2012-2013, but Kazatchkine also urged the government to increase domestic spending on such projects.

The United Nations says Ukraine has Europe's worst AIDS epidemic with 1.3 per cent of the population above 15 infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.