Human immunodeficiency virus
UNICEF in Belarus is actively supporting work to achieve the ambitious goal of completely ending the spread of HIV by 2030
In Belarus, 2,397 young people (aged under 30 years) live with HIV. These young people can live a full life with the right therapy: study, work, start a family, do what they like. However, adolescents and young people do not always adhere to a lifesaving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy due to social stigma towards people living with HIV (PLHIV), due to lacking awareness and other reasons.
In addition, young people often underestimate the risks or do not know how to avoid them, so the likelihood of getting infected increases.
This is especially relevant for young people who are at risk: drug-users, homosexuals, sex workers.
The HIV spreading challenge affects every country, thus forcing the entire global community to take decisive steps to counter it. In April 2016, the 69th World Health Assembly set a very ambitious goal: to completely end the HIV epidemic by 2030. To ensure this, global health strategies have been drafted, and Belarus has drafted it, too.
UNICEF in Belarus — along with other UN agencies — actively supports efforts to achieve this goal.
In Belarus, the system of countering the spread of HIV/AIDS, administration of medical aid, care and support associated with HIV/AIDS is based on the concept of the rights of the child, and the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is taken into account.
We focus our efforts on the most vulnerable as in other domains of our activities. UNICEF works with adolescents who practice risky behavior (people who use drugs, homosexuals, sex workers). The main goal is to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and other STIs, and to ensure that these people have access to age-tailored information, educational programs, friendly preventive services and health care.
UNICEF in Belarus along with its partners:
- UNICEF — along with its partners — supports operations of the Adolescent Friendly Centers where young people can anonymously take an HIV test and get qualified assistance. In addition, trainings, consultations, discussions are organized at the Centers for children from risk groups; discussions engage their peers or older youth, who are volunteer instructors and peer consultants.
- UNICEF raises awareness about HIV prevention. UNICEF publishes teaching materials for thematic school lessons, supports awareness campaigns against the stigma of adolescents living with HIV.
- UNICEF — together with BelAU — improves the quality of HIV prevention, care and support services. UNICEF supports and ensures adherence to ARVT (antiretroviral therapy) in adolescents.
- UNICEF — in partnership with the Positive Movement NGO — has organized a summer camp for adolescents living with HIV. The purpose of the event is to support young people, to give them additional information about HIV, to tell them about manifestations of discrimination, and how to avoid it.
- We — together with the People Plus partner organization — have implemented a project to create a favorable environment for young people living with HIV. We have organized online training for psychologists and peer counselors so that they understand how to work with young people living with HIV.
Significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the last decade thanks to the implementation of the HIV prevention programs in partnership with the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS, UNDP, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and non-governmental organizations in Belarus.
The country has managed to significantly reduce its HIV morbidity through implementing the People’s Health and Demographic Security of the Republic of Belarus State Program for 2016-2020 and the HIV prevention programs fulfilled in partnership with international organizations (UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF) and NGOs with the support of the Global Fund.
The HIV infection incidence in the Republic of Belarus was 16 cases per 100,000 of the population in 2021, and it has been maintained concentrated: the HIV infection prevails in the populations most vulnerable to HIV.
The country has maintained and achieved growth in all targets of the 95-95-95 UNAIDS strategic goal despite the epidemiological situation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This strategy assumes that 95% of people living with HIV will have known their HIV status by 2026; 95% of people knowing their HIV status will get treatment; lab tests of 95% of people on HIV treatment will not detect the virus (there will be “no” virus). This means that their immune system will remain “strong’ and they will no longer pass the infection to other people.
Once the 95-95-95 targets are achieved, this will limit spread of the epidemic to manageable levels, and this will allow moving on to the epidemic eradication phase. If the response is too slow, the epidemic will continue to grow resulting in heavy human and financial losses, growing demand for antiretroviral therapy, and higher treatment and prevention costs.
As of the end of 2021, 85.3 percent of the estimated number of people living with HIV in Belarus are identified and they are aware of their diagnosis; 85 percent of them are on antiretroviral treatment; 82.1 percent of them have an undetectable viral load.
Moreover, fruitful cooperation between the state and the UN agencies has resulted in elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission.
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