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UNICEF research reveals that most at risk adolescents need immediate access to HIV-prevention services and social support

Kyiv, 18 June 2009 – Young Ukrainians who are most at risk are in core of the HIV epidemic. The majority of the infected young people aged before 19 are: female commercial sex workers (CSW) – 8%, men who have sex with men (MSM) – 12%, injecting drug users (IDU) – 6%. This data is provided by the report ‘Most-at-risk adolescents: the evidence base for strengthening the HIV response in Ukraine’ that was presented today by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine and the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV (PLWH).

“These teenagers are most at risk of HIV infection because of social factors and their behaviour”, said Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. “So it is essential that this group of young people can access services and information that they can prevent themselves getting infected and keep healthy”, added Mr. Hartley. 

‘It is the first time in Ukraine we have such comprehensive research among the most at risk adolescents. Now we have evidences that give us a hope for active actions from the government that will not leave aside this vulnerable group. We have to act now, because the society where children are ill and die does not have a future’ – said Volodymyr Zhovtyak, Head of Coordination Board of the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH.

The results of the research ‘Most-at-risk adolescents: the evidence base for strengthening the HIV response in Ukraine’ are stating that:

  • Some 1/3 of the youngsters who are IDUs use drugs every day, another 1/3 of them use drugs several times a week, - the consumption of the drugs by injecting way became systematically for them;
  • Due to the lack of knowledge on HIV/AIDS, unprotected sex and injecting drug use the most at risk adolescence are more exposed to HIV infection then older representatives of such groups;
  • Almost 3/4 of teenagers female-CSW have provided sexual services for first time when they were before 16 years old. Among girls-CSW some 48 per cent not always have used a condom with their clients during last month;
  • Some 25 per cent of boys-MSM did not use condom during the last intercourse with their commercial partner;
  • Every fifth (19 per cent) teenaged girl who is involved in the commercial sex work is using injecting drugs; every fourth (24 per cent) among girls-IDUs provides sexual services on reward;
  • Average age for girls to start providing commercial sex services is 14 years old. Some 57 per cent of girls who are living or working on the streets have provided sexual services on the commercial basis or for food, clothes, protection, etc. Some 10 per cent of girls combine the risks of the injecting drug use and commercial sex;
  • Some 15,5 per cent of teenagers who are living or working on the streets have experience of injecting drug use, some 2/3 of them informed that have used a common needle during the last month;
  • Every tenth boy (10 per cent) among those who are living or working on the streets have practiced anal sex with male, some half of them stated that received from the partner some reward like money, clothes, drugs, etc;
  • Only some nine per cent of teenagers who are living or working on the streets are well informed about HIV/AIDS.    

For young people who are most at risk it is more difficult to get access to the prevention services because the majority of the existing programmes are targeting adults. The research confirms that estimated level of the HIV prevalence among most at risk adolescents is high, the level of the service provision is very low, and the access to the services is very limited.


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EDITOR’S NOTE:

About the Research: In the Country Programme of Cooperation between UNICEF and the Government of Ukraine for 2006-2010, UNICEF and the Government of Ukraine have agreed to prioritise prevention among most-at-risk adolescents, through creation of evidence-based knowledge on most-at-risk adolescents and their behaviour, HIV knowledge and service coverage.

The report ‘Most-at-risk adolescents: the evidence base for strengthening the HIV response in Ukraine’ presents the key findings of seven studies conducted by UNICEF and its partners in 2007-2008. This data will inform programming on most-at-risk adolescents and contribute to a more effective response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine.

This research was conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Researches named after O.Yaremenko with UNICEF’ s support in the framework of an international project covering seven countries in Europe. In Ukraine the project was also supported by the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport and State Social Service for Family, Children and Youth.

About UNICEF: UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF Ukraine opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. More information about UNICEF Ukraine: www.unicef.org.ua

About All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS: The Network (http://network.org.ua) is a charitable organisation that is created by HIV-positive people. The organisation and is implementing national and international programmes that support people who are living with HIV/AIDS. All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH is one of the major recipients of the grant for 2007-2012 of the Global Fund’s for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. The main area of our work is explanation of the access to the medical services, care and support for the HIV-positive people. With such interventions their lives will be better and longer. In 2006 the All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH was recognised as the best organisation in the world in the area of combating stigma and discrimination regarding HIV-positive people.   
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For more information, please contact:

Veronika Vashchenko, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine. Tel./e-mail: +38-044-230-2430, cell. 8067 927-60-38, vvashchenko@unicef.org,

Inna Boyko, a.i. Head of the advocacy and policy department All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH. Tel./e-mail: +38 044 467-75-67, cell. 8066 638-63-10, boyko@network.org.ua,

Olga Balakireva, Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Institute of Social Researches named after O.Yaremenko. Tel./email:+38 044 280 83 05, E-mail: bon@ief.org.ua


Additional information

The report ‘Most-at-risk adolescents: the evidence base for strengthening the HIV response in Ukraine’ presents the key findings of seven studies conducted by UNICEF and Ukrainian Institute of Social Researches named after O.Yaremenko in 2007-2008.

In Ukraine the project was also supported by the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sport and State Social Service for Family, Children and Youth.

  1. A comprehensive desk review on available evidence and services for especially vulnerable adolescents (EVA) and moat at risk adolescents (MARA) boys and girls in Ukraine.
  2. A review of existing policy and legislation concerning service access barriers.
  3. An analysis of gender-specific issues.
  4. A secondary analysis of data on adolescent IDUs, FSWs and MSM from the 2007 (bio-) behavioural surveillance studies (Secondary Analysis).
  5. A baseline behavioural study (Baseline Study) among adolescents living and working on the streets in Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk. This was followed by focus groups with MARA boys and girls in each city to discuss the preliminary research findings. 
  6. An analysis of key EVA and MARA stakeholders in the four project sites and an assessment of their capacity needs as a basis for developing a sound capacity-building plan for each site, and for monitoring and evaluating the impact of capacity-building support. 
  7. A quality research on the availability and access of most at risk adolescents to HIV prevention services. 

 

 
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