Real lives

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Young activist asserts the rights of her HIV-positive peers

Liuda is sure that prevention will help her to give birth to a HIV-free baby

Prevention and treatment will make it possible for HIV-positive Kateryna to give birth to a healthy baby

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Prevention and treatment will make it possible for HIV-positive Kateryna to give birth to a healthy baby

© UNICEF / UKRAINE / 2013 / O. Ivanenko
Kateryna at the maternity clinic #4 in Kyiv

Four years ago Kateryna* suddenly learned that she was HIV-infected. At that that, she was 24 and could not even imagine that HIV could directly affect her, as she did not use drugs and was true to her husband. But it happened- she contracted HIV directly from her husband. “I lost self-control, I fell into despair, started to use drugs and said to myself that I would never have children,” recalls Kateryna and shudders at the memory. Nowadays Kateryna is 28, she has new family and is expecting a baby with her second husband. She is impatient when she asking her doctor what the gender of her future baby will be.

However, the years leading to this happy moment have not been easy for Kateryna,, as she was faced with trying to overcome her fears and drug addiction. In an attempt to give up using drugs, she even moved to Moscow in order to completely change her environment and get rid of dangerous relationships.

Her second husband significantly helped Kateryna start a new life. She was strong enough to give up using drugs and started to receive antiretroviral therapy. Willpower was also helpful: she fell to thinking that drugs would lead to crime, she would lose her health and nice appearance. “It was the love to my dearest and nearest, and my desire to have a family that encouraged me to return to regular life. In the meantime, I’ve finished my higher education,” says Kateryna.

Kateryna’s second husband took her to polyclinic at maternity clinic #4 in Kyiv. This clinic participates into UNICEF project “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission and Improvement of Perinatal Outcomes among Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women and Their Newborns”.

Ukraine has one of the highest and most widespread HIV rates in Europe. Each year, the number of HIV-infected pregnant women grows by 20%. At the same time, if a mother follows doctor’s instructions and recommendations, the likelihood that her newborn is infected is 10 times lower than if the necessary precautions are not taken.

Kateryna believes that all her efforts and strict compliance with treatment regimen will help her to give birth to a healthy and strong baby.

The project “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission and Improvement of Perinatal Outcomes among Drug-Addicted Pregnant Women and Their Newborns” is implemented by William J. Clinton Foundation with the UNICEF support and in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

Its principal aim is to promote and ensure that drug-addicted pregnant women (HIV-positive and HIV-negative) and their newborns are provided with gender-sensitive comprehensive integrated care, which meet their expectations. The project is implemented in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Kryvyi Rih cities. During project lifespan, 148 women-injecting drug users benefited from it. 39% of them are HIV-positive, and 58 women have learned about their positive HIV status during the project. 18 clients were engaged in the opioid substitution maintenance therapy programme. 107 babies were born by project clients so far, including HIV-positive mothers. Pregnant women can enjoy healthcare and social services and case management during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period that are provided by multidisciplinary teams trained within the project’s framework. Currently, all babies are HIV-free. It is a significant achievement of the project.

* Name changed due to ethical considerations.



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