Moldova: young people know little about HIV/AIDS, says new study
An advice session on HIV/AIDS at a UNICEF-supported youth-friendly centre in Balti, Moldova
UNICEF says HIV prevention among young people should be one of today’s priorities in Moldova
Chisinau, July 5, 2005 – Only 8.3 per cent of young people of Moldova can correctly identify the modes of transmission and methods of prevention of sexual infections and HIV. Girls in rural areas and young people from residential institutions are among the least informed. This makes them highly vulnerable to the risk of HIV/AIDS, as outlined by the UNICEF study – Young People’s Health and Development - presented today in Chisinau.
Only slightly more than one third of young people who already had sexual relations use condoms each time. Many young girls stated that male partners often refuse to use condoms, that they trust their partners and that they lack the confidence necessary to address the subject. Consequently, many young people face serious problems associated with sexual activity – sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and the risk of HIV. Two thirds of young people who reported different reproductive health problems did not seek out treatment due to a lack of trust and confidentiality on the part of health personnel.
This study was carried out by UNICEF Moldova and “Health for Young People” Association with the support of CIDA and Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Covering a sample of 3,405 young people aged 10-24, the study is the first initiative of such magnitude in Moldova and is unique in the region. It reveals that one third of the population of Moldova - young people aged 10-24 – is exposed to high health and development risks.
"The study proves that the risks of quick HIV spreading among young people are very high, because the knowledge of the latter in the field of protection and protection practices are very reduced”, says Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Moldova. „In the conditions in which HIV affects especially young people in Moldova, and the persons aged 20-29 are more than half of the total number of persons having HIV, the preventive actions addresses to young people become an emergency”.
The health and development of young people in Moldova is hindered by reduced education opportunities, lack of life skills and limited access to “youth-friendly” services.
Young people stated that the main problems that they face include: poverty, difficulties in continuing their education, unemployment, difficulties in communicating with parents, domestic violence and abuse of substances.
The study results contravene the widely held perception that informing young people of sexuality and related issues would encourage their initiation of sexual activity. In fact, young people who discussed these issues with their parents had their first sexual contact on average one year later than those who did not.
According to the study, 22.8% of young people aged 10-24 of Moldova had sexual relations, the average age of the first sexual contact being 16.32 years. One in ten young girls confirmed that she was forced to have her first sexual experience.
At the same time, according to the results of the study, although young people would want to be informed by parents and trusted adults (e.g. doctors, psychologists, teachers) about health and sexuality and usually find information on these subjects in the mass-media and from their peers.
UNICEF recommends urgent investments in HIV prevention among young people of Moldova, including life skills based education through school curriculum, extra-curricular programs and peer-based programs; building parents’ skills in communicating with their children about health issues; increasing access to specialized youth friendly services; and capacity building for medical professionals, counselors, psychologists and social workers in youth-appropriate communication and counseling techniques.
For more information
Larisa Lazarescu-Speteţchi, UNICEF Moldova: (+ 373 22) 22 00 34