Let’s Unite for Children!
Welcome to this edition of Unite for Children, UNICEF Romania’s quarterly publication that helps keep donors, partners and the general public abreast of the major issues faced by children in Romania, and what UNICEF is doing to help protect and defend their rights.
This edition’s focus is HIV and AIDS in Romania, and in the following pages readers will learn that when almost two per cent of Romania’s institutionalised children tested positive for HIV in 1992, the country faced a potential catastrophe. The growth of a deadly virus threatened to spiral out of control, and possibly could have, had it not been for the persistent, unrelenting hard work of many actors at local, national and international levels. Today the danger in high-risk, vulnerable groups remains very real, but the threat of an epidemic amongst children has been averted, and Romania’s confronting the problem amongst children is a major victory for all concerned.
Romania’s experience with HIV and AIDS is most remarkable for the fact that many of the children who were diagnosed with HIV in the early 1990s have survived, and are now approaching the end of adolescence. While they do have specific issues that are not shared by their contemporaries, with the correct treatment and counseling they are now looking ahead to a future not vastly different from any ‘normal’ young man or woman. Their experience makes them among the best-informed activists and counselors against AIDS, and many are willing to talk and share their stories. Further, their experience – unique in Europe – is invaluable to AIDS medical staff and researchers and has already been studied in minute detail when outbreaks have occurred amongst children in other countries in the region.
A word on fund raising, and an inspiring example of the power of corporate sponsorship to do good. The last quarter of 2008 saw One Pack = One Vaccine – a long-term, multi-million dollar, multicountry programme aimed at raising sufficient funds to vaccinate mothers and babies against tetanus – expand to Romania. Procter & Gamble, the producer of Pampers diapers agreed that for each specially marked pack and wipe of Pampers purchased it would donate to UNICEF the cost of a vaccine. The fundraising