First Lady of Germany visits Ukraine in the framework of the Global Campaign "Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS."
Odessa, 2 September 2006. The First Lady of Germany, Mrs Eva Luise Köhler, who is also the Patron of the UNICEF National Committee in Germany, is visiting Ukraine to familiarise herself with the assistance UNICEF is providing to Ukraine in combating the threat of HIV/AIDS.
Mrs Köhler, joined by the First Lady of Ukraine, Mrs Katrina Yushchenko, yesterday visited the Odessa Oblast AIDS Centre Day-Care Centre for HIV-positive children and Education for Health Centre for street children.
Ukraine is the country worst affected by HIV/AIDS in Europe with an estimated 360, 000 people aged 15-49 living with HIV - around 1.4 per cent of the adult population. Some 25 per cent of people living with HIV are under the age of 20 and of the newly registered HIV cases in 2005, 59 per cent were below the age of 30. The number of children born to HIV-positive women is increasing. One hundred and eighty-six children have died as a result of HIV/AIDS.
"AIDS is a time-bomb. The increase of HIV infections in Ukraine, in particular among young people, is alarming. We still have the chance to push back the epidemic but we have to act now," said Eva Luise Köhler.
In order to galvanise action for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS UNICEF and other partners have launched a global campaign Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS. On 1 June this year, Ukraine joined the campaign that urges for an accelerated response to help children and young people to prevent HIV, to ensure that mothers can prevent transmission of HIV to their unborn children, to ensure paediatric treatment for children in need and provide for the needs of children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS.
Together with the Scottish photographer David Gillanders, the winner of the 2005 UNICEF Photo of the Year Award, Mrs Köhler also visited places in Odessa where Yana, the girl in the award-winning photograph, used to live. Yana was originally from Moldova, the poorest country in Eastern Europe. Her father, an alcoholic, died young and her mother went to jail when Yana was eight years old. Yana had been living on the streets ever since, most recently in Odessa. She died on the street last Christmas, addicted to drugs and infected with HIV.
In Germany Mrs Eva Luise Köhler, as the Patron of the UNICEF National Committee, started a fundraising campaign called ‘Me and You Against AIDS’ to attract funds for the Global Campaign "Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS."
Before visiting Ukraine, Mrs Köhler had already paid a visit to Moldova.
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