Young Ukrainians speak out on HIV and AIDS
KYIV, Ukraine, 7 June 2010 – Fifteen children aged between 12 and 18 from across Ukraine have gathered in the capital Kyiv this week to participate in a OneMinutesJr video workshop.
UNICEF and the NGO “All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS” invited them to tell their stories by producing short films on HIV/AIDS.
HIV is spreading rapidly in Ukraine, yet much stigma and discrimination still surrounds the issue while the poor quality of public health services contributes to the social exclusion of most-at-risk-adolescents and young people affected by HIV.
Many of the young Ukrainians taking part in this workshop are HIV-positive or have HIV-positive friends or family members. The stories they have come up with are very authentic. Each teenage participant will produce a 60-second duration film highlighting how HIV/AIDS and is having an impact on their lives.
Supported by UNICEF, the OneminutesJr project has held workshops around the globe to develop ways in which youngsters can express themselves and have a voice in debates about issues that affect their lives.
Eastern Europe: young face of HIV/AIDS epidemic
HIV is spreading faster in Eastern Europe and Central Asia than anywhere else in the world. Adolescents and young people account for one third of new HIV infections in the region.
Injecting drug use is still driving the spread of HIV but the disease is now spreading fast among the broader young population through unprotected sex and from mothers to their babies. Eighty per cent of all infected people are young. The recent sharp increase in infections outside vulnerable groups and in young women in particular suggests that the coming years will be decisive for addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine.
The number of pregnant mothers who are HIV-positive in Ukraine is gradually increasing by 20% - 30% every year. In 2008, the HIV prevalence in pregnant women reached 0.55%, one of the highest in Europe. As a result of this rise, there has been an increase in the number of babies born HIV positive. To date since 1987, close to 20,000 children have been born to pregnant HIV-positive mothers, of which 2,000 are also HIV-positive and over 6,000 are too young to have their status confirmed.
Current trends of the HIV epidemic prove that more emphasis should be placed on prevention among most at risk adolescents, youth, children born to HIV-positive mothers survival, care providers capacity building and increasing of quality of existing system of treatment, care and support for those who already affected by HIV/AIDS.
Young messengers from Ukraine
The 15 one-minute films, once produced, will be used by UNICEF to raise awareness on challenges faced by young people affected by HIV/AIDS in Ukraine. They will be shown at the national AIDS conference in Kyiv in December this year.
The best films will also be shown at the 2010 XVIII International AIDS Conference, which will take place between 18 and 23 July in Vienna, Austria. Over 25,000 delegates are expected to attend AIDS 2010 conference, bringing together professionals working around the world in the field of AIDS prevention and treatment, people living with HIV, and health policy-makers and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. And the one-minute videos produced by young Ukrainian film-makers will become an important tool in ensuring that the views of young people are part of this consultative and decision-making process.
The theme of the 2010 AIDS Conference “Rights Here, Right Now” emphases human rights and the needs of the most vulnerable to and affected by HIV. It will provide an opportunity to highlight the critical connection between human rights and HIV and will allow for an examination of the HIV/AIDS impact in Eastern Europe, a region experiencing one of the fastest growing epidemics.
Protecting children’s rights and addressing HIV/AIDS
All children have a right to treatment, prevention and protection from HIV and AIDS. Children’s participation in the planning and delivery of services is key to ensuring programmes that are tailored to their needs. The Convention on the Rights of the Child holds states accountable for the delivery of public health services to children and families affected by AIDS, including young people living with HIV.
During the 2010 XVIII International AIDS Conference, UNICEF will launch the report on social exclusion in Central Eastern Europe and CIS countries, which outlines the context and nature of the epidemic in this region as well as innovations that are of relevance for the broader HIV constituency.
For more information please contact: Veronika Vashchenko, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine at firstname.lastname@example.org, +38.044.230.2514
About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 150 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. More information about UNICEF activities in Ukraine at www.unicef.org.ua