Christopher Kennedy Lawford is a new Goodwill Ambassador of UNDOC
Christopher Kennedy Lawford, a former Public Policy Consultant for Caron Treatment Centers, renowned actor, and author, was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador on Drug Dependence Treatment and Care. During his two-year appointment, Mr. Kennedy Lawford will create public awareness and generate support for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) global programmes aimed at drug demand reduction, drug dependence treatment and care. Mr Fedotov said Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: "We all talk at length about the real and incredibly difficult challenges of people hooked on substances. Mr. Kennedy Lawford knows first hand how it feels and his journey and experience as an actor, author and advocate show us that there is a way out and that treatment and care can work."
"There is a world full of people who have found a way out of the hell of addiction to a better life. Their story needs to be told. As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNODC I want to use my experience and advocacy to bring a message of hope and empowerment to those affected by drug use and dependence throughout the world," said Mr. Kennedy Lawford on his appointment.
Mr. Kennedy Lawford has had distinguished careers in Hollywood and Washington as an actor, writer, lawyer, activist and public speaker. However, much of his early life was a struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Today, he inspires and motivates substance users to kick their habit. "I have been fortunate enough to have access to good treatment services that helped me recover from drug dependence. Such services are also very much needed for people in low- and middle-income countries, including those especially vulnerable to drug use and dependence, like poor people, or those living in marginalized communities."
In March 2010 Mr. Kennedy paid a visit to Ukraine and discussed with senior health officials, civil society activists, donor community issues related to hepatitis C (Hep C) prevention in Ukraine and share experience in its healing.
Globally, an estimated 170 million persons are chronically infected with the Hep C and 3 to 4 million persons are newly infected each year. In Europe the most common route of transmission occurs via injecting drug use. In Ukraine, as many as 1.1 million may be chronically infected with Hep C, which is the leading co-infection for HIV. In Ukraine, a country, which is the most affected by HIV and AIDS in Europe, 80% of Ukrainians living with HIV are young people.
The HIV epidemic is still concentrated among most-at-risk populations (MARPs) and HIV is still mostly transmitted through injecting drug use. However, heterosexual transmission is growing and women often provide funding for drugs for their male partners through commercial sex work. Women now account for 45 per cent of HIV infected people in the country. HIV prevention programmes in Ukraine for MARPs lack gender specificity. Pregnant injecting drug user (IDU) women, who could be infected with HIV, form a subgroup of female IDUs with specific needs. Street drug use during pregnancy has profound consequences for the foetus and the new-born baby’s health and can cause still birth and premature delivery.
Ukraine managed to decrease the mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT) rate from 27 per cent in 2000 to 6.2 per cent in 2008. However, there are still some barriers to achieving the goal for European countries as stipulated by the Dublin Declaration in 2004, namely an MTCT rate of less than 2 per cent by 2010.
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