Access to Services for Women Who Use Drugs in Ukraine: A Multidisciplinary Perspective


Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


YouTube (public); Zoom (registration required)

A Panel Discussion with Polina Alpatova, Alyona Mazhnaya, Jill Owczarzak, and Sarah Phillips;
Q&A moderated by Emily Channell-Justice

Polina Alpatova, co-founder of the research bureau "Sociologist”; Lecturer and Research Associate of the Centre of Social-Humanitarian Research, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, lecturer
Alyona Mazhnaya, Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy
Jill Owczarzak, Associate Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Sarah D. Phillips, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute, Indiana University

Register for the Zoom webinar or watch live on YouTube.

Mobile Outreach Van in Ukraine


In this collective presentation, a multidisciplinary research team discusses their collaborative effort to understand the gender norms, structural factors, and institutional arrangements that shape the health care and social service experiences of women who use drugs (WWUD) in Ukraine. In Ukraine, women constitute a third of all new HIV infections, and injection drug use accounts for nearly half of HIV infections among women. WWUD often have diminished access to drug, HIV, and other health and social services or underutilize women-specific services such as maternal health. WWUD in Ukraine are expected, as women, to care for others, and yet they are systematically excluded from full engagement with services that could help them. They must navigate service contexts that stigmatize them and must navigate narratives of deservingness that award social benefits to women with the ability to demonstrate “good” or “improved” behavior. 

This team’s projects combine public health, epidemiology, anthropology, and sociology to identify how health and social service providers can better meet the unique needs of women who use drugs.

About the Speakers

Polina Alpatova

Polina Alpatova is a sociologist, lecturer at the V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, researcher, and co-founder of the research bureau "Sociologist." Working in the field of sociological, marketing, and political research for more than 15 years, she has significant experience organizing and carrying out research using qualitative and quantitative methodology. Her research interests include vulnerable groups, stigma and discrimination, consumer behavior, and youth culture.

Alyona Mazhnaya

Alyona Mazhnaya is a public health researcher with 10 years of experience in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, substance use, treatment scale-up, behavior-change interventions, and stigma. 

Jill Owczarzak

Jill Owczarzak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky in 2007. Her work focuses on the translation, dissemination, and implementation of evidence-based programs by frontline service providers. She studies gender, drug use, and HIV prevention and treatment in Ukraine, the United States, and South Africa. She is also the Director of the Master of Health Sciences in Social Factors program at JHSPH. 

Sarah Phillips

Sarah D. Phillips has been conducting ethnographic research in Ukraine since 1995. She has published two books: Women's Social Activism in the New Ukraine: Development and the Politics of Differentiation (Indiana U Press, 2008), and Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine (Indiana U Press, 2012). Since 2015 she has collaborated with Dr. Jill Owczarzak (Johns Hopkins University) on research about HIV prevention and drug use in Ukraine. Phillips' current research takes a historical turn and focuses on the popularity of American writer Kurt Vonnegut in the USSR during the Cold War.

Moderator: Emily Channell-Justice, Director, Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program, Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University

Watch on YouTube


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