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On 2008 World AIDS Day, UNICEF calls for improvement of prevention and access to health services for adolescents in BiH

UNICEF in Bosnia and Herzegovina marks the World AIDS Day with a reminder that the low prevalence of HIV infection in the country presents a window of opportunity for strengthening prevention measures and delivery of services in order to protect children and adolescents from this deadly risk.

Contributing to this objective, UNICEF recently reviewed legislation, policies and practices to assess legal gaps in the access of adolescents to information and health services related to HIV/AIDS and STI in BiH. One of the recommendations that emerged from the analysis was to lower the age, from 18 to 15 years, below which parental consent is required prior to allowing youth access to certain health services (including HIV testing).

“UNICEF is advocating for this legislation change, as this would allow young people to request HIV and STI testing on their own, which is critical for them to know their status and to help in the early identification of infections, as well as increase their awareness of risks.” – said June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative.

UNICEF supported research to increase the availability of data on the most at-risk adolescents (MARA) and vulnerable youth and to improve the understanding of policy planners and HIV/AIDS stakeholders of the legislative environment for the provision of health services including HIV testing and information to adolescents. UNICEF used the findings of this report to contribute to the Strategy for Diminishing of Drug Misuse prepared by the multisectoral state working group. The strategy facilitated the creation of a legal framework for the implementation of harm reduction (needle and syringe exchange and methadone maintenance treatment) activities and distribution of supplies throughout the country. In June 2008, the working group finalized the BiH Strategy on Suppression of Narcotic Drug Misuse, which was endorsed by the state Commission for Supervision over Narcotic Drugs, Prevention and Suppression of the Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and is currently in the process for endorsement by other governmental bodies. In the meantime an operational plan for Strategy implementation has been drafted.



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