Children affected by HIV
Despite the significant scale-up of prevention programmes, HIV continues to spread and affect children. In the last eight years, there has been a stable increase in the number of newly reported HIV cases. So far no accurate data exists regarding the number of HIV positive children (less than 18 years old), neither on those that need special treatment (ARV treatment). Assistance to children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS is insufficient and reflect overall weakness of the health, social protection and child protection systems which should be inclusive and sensitive to the needs of this group. Little has been done to combat the discrimination, stigmatization, and isolation faced by the children affected by HIV/AIDS. To overcome these vacuums and several other issues, UNICEF is working on the following activities:
- Knowledge and skills for medical workers. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, the University of Medicine and Pharmacology and the NGO 'VIS', UNICEF contributed to the strengthening of the knowledge and skills of service providers. Multidisciplinary teams created and trained on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) ensured thatFamily Medicine Centers and all maternities have at least one team with increased knowledge on pre & post HIV test counseling, ARV treatment during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum, HIV and infant feeding counseling & support and prevention of abandonment.
- Medical Centre for children. UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Health to establish the first HIV/AIDS Paediatric Department where ART treatment for adults and children was concentrated. The creation of this Department allows children’s isolation from HIV positive adults and decreases their risk of being infected with opportunistic infections. Mothers and their children have three renovated wards, with age-adapted furniture and equipment.
- Social and psychological assistance to families affected by HIV. Since the state sector has little experience in supporting families affected by HIV/AIDS, two NGOs in Balti and Tiraspol receivedUNICEF support to develop project models targeting HIV+ pregnant women and HIV+ children, children affected by HIV and their families, covering at least 20% of the HIV/AIDS affected families in targeted area with quality care, assistance and support. Provision of integrated counseling services to HIV+ mothers, combating stigma and discrimination related to HIV, social support were new important components of the projects.
- Evidence & Data on children affected by HIV/AIDS. The Baseline Situation analysis on families with children affected by HIV/AIDS conducted by the Ministry of Health in partnership with UNAIDS and with UNICEF support provided, for the first time, important data related to children in HIV-affected families, their geographical distribution and distribution by age and sex, their major problems and basic needs, access to services, issues related to stigmatization and discrimination, etc.
- Ensuring a safe and protected environment for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Evidences/findings of the study on children affected by HIV/AIDS were used by Ministry of Health to plan in 2009 with UNICEF support for a large project to decrease stigma and discrimination in the Health System. The project results will contribute essentially to the improvement of the protective environment for children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families and reduce stigma, discrimination and isolation.