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Experiences from the field: HIV prevention among most at risk adolescents in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States

GENEVA, 30 January 2013 - The countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) have the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world. The number of people living with HIV has almost tripled since 2000 and there are currently over 1.4 million people living with HIV in CEE/CIS (1).

The HIV epidemic is affecting ever younger, vulnerable adolescents in CEE/CIS, and yet it is masked by official overall HIV prevalence rates that are, for the most part, relatively low. Still, within these countries, we are seeing sub-groups of young people with infection rates on a par with the worst-affected populations in sub-Saharan Africa.

The spread of HIV in this region goes hand in hand with the social exclusion of those who are most vulnerable. Those who are most likely to become infected with HIV are those who are already shut out of society or denied services because of their poverty, ethnicity and behaviours that put them at risk, or who are made vulnerable because of family breakdown, violence, social exclusion or conflict with the law.

The experiences of UNICEF, working together with government and civil society partners, have increased our understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of most-at-risk adolescents. Much of what we know about adolescents and HIV in the CEE/CIS region has emerged from programming in numerous countries of Eastern Europe. Those featured in this publication, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine, have been working with those adolescent boys and girls who inject drugs or engage in transactional sex, young males who have sex with males, street-connected adolescents and those coming from disadvantaged socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds.

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Experiences from the Field

Use Experiences from the Field to access over 50 hyperlinks to research reports, case studies, journal articles and more.

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