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CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING OR WORKING ON THE STREETS ARE AT THE CORE OF THE HIV EPIDEMIC IN UKRAINE

Кyiv, 30 August 2007р.: Findings of the Study ‘CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING OR WORKING ON THE STREETS: THE MISSING FACE OF THE HIV EPIDEMIC IN UKRAINE’  conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) with a support from the Ministry of Ukraine on Family, Youth and Sports, confirmed that children and young people living or working on the streets are at the core of the HIV epidemic.

The Study composed of situation analysis and quantitative and qualitative survey among service providers and 650 children and young people aged 10-19 in Kyiv and Odesa assessed behaviours, knowledge, attitudes and practices and confirmed a low level of awareness among street children on HIV and a wide prevalence of the risky behaviour practices.

Though the official statistics for this group on HIV or other infectious diseases is hardly available, the anecdotal evidence indicates that HIV prevalence might already be high among this group:
– of 25 children tested for HIV in Kyiv in 2005, 5 were found to be HIV-positive (20 per cent)
– of 29 tested in Odesa in 2004, 20 tested HIV-positive (69 per cent)
– In Odesa, 32.5 per cent reported to have experienced sexual violence and exploitation within the past six months
– 76 per cent in Kyiv and 94 per cent in Odesa reported the use of some kind of stimulant or drugs
– 18 per cent in Kiev and 39 per cent in Odesa reported having provided sexual services in exchange of
Access to the HIV prevention services is very low: less than 20 per cent of those surveyed had been ever tested for HIV. Only 43% of respondents in Kyiv and 33 % in Odesa could correctly name the two main HIV transmission modes (unprotected sex and use of non-sterile injecting equipment).

‘One of the major challenges we face is the need to break the silence that surrounds HIV/AIDS. This requires visionary leadership and significant individual courage,’ said Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. ‘We will not prevent infections unless we overcome the widespread stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and develop the efficient system of HIV prevention services for the most vulnerable groups – especially children and young people.’

Based on the findings from the Study and numerous consultations with the national and international stakeholders, the strategic recommendations were developed to boost the further development of the favourable policy and legislation, improve coordination and cooperation, strategic planning and resource mobilization, ensure capacity building of service providers, develop service standards and range of services for children and young people living or working on the streets.

 

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For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, 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.


For further information, please contact:

Dmytro Konyk, UNICEF Ukraine/Kyiv 044 254 24 50, dkonyk@unicef.org

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