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UNICEF calls for improving of the life’s quality and care support for HIV-positive children in Ukraine

© UNICEF/Ukraine/2010/G.Pirozzi

Kyiv, 6th December 2011 - in order to commemorate the World AIDS Day, the Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine is presenting the findings of the survey "Current situation in the area of treatment, care and support for HIV –positive children" and is suggesting recommendations for improvement of care and support for HIV-positive children.

Substantial increase of heterosexual HIV-infection transmission and increasing in number of HIV-infected women in reproductive age resulted in the increase of number of HIV-positive children born to them. Within the last years country has managed to reduce the level of HIV transmission from mother to child from 27 per cent in 2000 to 6 per cent in 2008. However, the number of children with confirmed HIV-infection is still growing. As of 1 July 2011, there are 2,669 children living with HIV-infection and 6,403 are waiting for identification of their HIV status.

The data received indicates that there are still very common false stereotypes regarding HIV-transmission among children. Only 60-61% of parents and 47-48% of care providers knew that HIV won’t transmit if an HIV-positive child scrabbles or snaps a healthy child. Insufficient knowledge about opportunistic infections and its safety for healthy people, peculiarities of the vaccination of HIV-positive children and the rules of personal hygiene and safety was observed. 

18% of parents and 11% of care providers that have been surveyed are prone to think, that HIV-positive children are very different from those who are healthy, they need more special attention, have no prospects in life. So it’s not strange, that some of the respondents  support the idea of isolation of HIV-positive children and their separate treatment upbringing and studying – though this strategy is no way medically justified and enables integration of these children into society.

The discrimination of HIV-positive children still occurs in medical institutions. 12% of surveyed parents and 6% of care providers were aware of such cases. 17% of surveyed parents consider that their children have faced unfair treatment in schools or kindergartens. Though along with it were set precedents of bearing responsibility for discrimination. Most of respondents agree on necessity to plan the future of HIV-positive children. Though, only 30% of parents (or persons substituting them) agreed with another person who can raise their HIV-positive child in case of severe deterioration of their own health. Only 11% made their will to favour a child. 

Comparing to the previous survey findings conducted in 2003:

  • The number of parents covered by educational programmes on care and support of HIV-positive children has considerably increased.
  • The proportion of those who suggest isolating of HIV-positive children from not infected peers has decreased.
  • The spread of false stereotypes about possible ways of HIV-transmission among children has reduced.
  • The proportion of parents who have found the guardians for their children instead of them and made their will to favour a child has increased.
  • The precedents of bearing responsibility for discrimination or unfair treatment of HIV-positive children were set.

At the same time:

  • The general awareness about HIV/AIDS didn’t change.
  • The scale of stigma almost didn’t change.
  • The general awareness about the rules of care about HIV-positive children Didn’t improve.

In order to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the state of HIV-positive children in Ukraine were developed respective indicators. 30 indicators were suggested to reflect the knowledge, attitude and practice among the representatives of 3 target groups: parents/guardians, medical care providers and non-medical staff.

“The survey confirms that children born to HIV-positive mothers, their parents and their relatives continue to face a number of problems, including confidentiality of children’s HIV status, lack of legal protection; discrimination and stigma, difficulties in access to care and support services (including financial benefits) from various state and civil society organizations. Most HIV-positive children are born to families who suffer from unfortunate and difficult circumstances, such as poverty, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse. There is also a problem of abandonment of those children by their parents. Insufficient knowledge about HIV and AIDS in society causes fear, stigma and discrimination. It is important that care, treatment and reintegration of HIV-affected children into society be strengthened and their families supported by social protection mechanism to prevent any potential social risks and children’s abandonment. Those families have to be supported for their opportunities for life, so that children won’t be separated from their biological parents. It is important to take this into account in the context of current social reforms. The effectiveness of political decisions and improvement of services for HIV-positive children can be ensured only by means of effective cooperation between governmental and nongovernmental organizations. It is necessary to develop the integration of medical and social services, raise awareness about the infection, not only among those who provide these services, but also in society, and promote more tolerance...”, - said Ms.Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

The sociological survey was conducted within the Country Programme of Cooperation between UNICEF and the Government of Ukraine for 2006-2011 by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Research named after O. Yaremenko in March – May 2009. 199 of HIV-positive children’s parents were surveyed, along with 250 of care providers involved in treatment, care and support; moreover 10 in-depth interviews with national experts were conducted.

The findings of the survey are based on the data of a repeated survey among parents/guardians of HIV-positive children and care providers (in 2009). The survey was conducted in Kyiv city, Crimea, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernihiv, Lviv and Odesa regions.

***

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a world leader on protection of child rights and best interests of a child. UNICEF is working on the ground in 150 countries to protect and support children from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Ukraine in 1997. For more information:  www.unicef.org.ua

For more information please contact:
Yulia Yurova, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine +38-044-254-2450, E-mail: yyurova@unicef.org
Olga Balakireva, Chair of Ukrainian Institute of Social Research named after O. Yaremenko.
Tel.: 044 280 83 05, E-mail: bon@ief.org.ua

 

 
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