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UNICEF calls for increased effectiveness in working with most-at-risk adolescents in Ukraine

Kyiv, 30 November 2011 – The day before the World AIDS Day United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is presenting the results of the study ‘Adolescents living or working on the streets: actual emphasis on HIV prevention’ and is suggesting recommendations for strengthening the response in working with most-at-risk adolescents. 

Most-at-risk adolescents are highly vulnerable to HIV infection due to numerous factors. The most vulnerable group are adolescents living or working on the streets: 96 per cent have tried alcohol; 22 per cent had experience of injecting drug use, 65 per cent of girls were providing commercial sex services or ‘sex for reward’; 7 per cent of boys had sex with men; only 13 per cent always used condom with casual sexual partners, while a quarter (26,5 per cent) always used one with commercial partners.

Every fourth street adolescent, who has a sexual partner, indicated that her /his partner is an injecting drug-user (especially relevant for girls). In the last 30 days 55 per cent (34 per cent in 2008) have injected drugs from a previously filled syringe. Every third (every fifth in 2008) girl with sexual experience has reported pregnancy.

Study results show that social vulnerability factors are also hindering access to medical and social services. Two-thirds of adolescents didn’t have a permanent place of residence for the last three months. Every fourth adolescent has a single parent. Every ninth doesn’t know if her/his mother is alive, every third doesn’t know if her/his father is alive.

Two-thirds of adolescents are not covered by state medical services. Only half of respondents have a medical card, only 37 per cent of street adolescents are registered in the polyclinic at their place of residence.

Among 16-19-year-old adolescents, who according to the law should have the complete list of the documents, 46 per cent do not have a passport, 54 per cent do not have an education certificate.

Presented results are based on data from the repeated survey among children and youth, living or working on the streets (2011) in Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kyiv and Mykolaiv, where the baseline survey was previously conducted (2007-2008) and where prevention projects have proved their effectiveness:

  • The share of those, who correctly identify, that HIV can be prevented through having sex with a regular faithful non-infected partner, has increased for almost 10 per cent.
  • The number of those, who are practicing self-treatment of STIs has decreased from 47 per cent in 2008 to 42 per cent in 2011.
  • Compared to 2008 the share of those, who know where HIV counselling and testing is provided, has increased for 10 per cent.
  • The share of adolescents, who were tested for HIV during the last year and received the result, has almost doubled. The biggest increase in HIV testing is among girls. While in 2008 every sixth girl was tested for HIV during the last year and received the result, in 2011 it was every third one.

At the same time, a significant share of most-at-risk adolescents are not covered by services and have a low level of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, HIV-service organizations and places, where support is provided and testing is available.

“Projects implementation experience and study results show the necessity and relevance of working with street children and confirm effectiveness and sustainability of suggested interventions. These efforts will be successful in case of fruitful cooperation of NGOs and local authorities, implementation of integrated approach to services provision, developed system of social support and referral, staff training” – said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

Most-at-risk adolescents’ population size estimate in Ukraine became an important step for effective planning at the national and local levels. According to the report ‘Population size estimate of most-at-risk children and youth in the 10-19 age group’ there are 85 thousand MARA in Ukraine, which corresponds to 1,6 per cent for 100 thousand adolescents. The share among boys is 2 per cent and among girls – 1,2 per cent.

The study supported by UNICEF was conducted by Ukrainian Institute of Social Research named after O. Yaremenko. In Ukraine study in 2011 was supported by Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports, and State Social Service for Family, Children and Youth.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a world leader on protection of child rights and best interests of a child. UNICEF is working on the ground in 150 countries to protect and support children from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Ukraine in 1997. For more information:

For more information and copies of the Report please contact:

Yulia Yurova, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ukraine +38-044-254-2450, E-mail:
Olena Sakovych, Youth and adolescent officer, UNICEF Ukraine +38-044-254-2450, E-mail:
Olga Balakireva, Chair of Ukrainian Institute of Social Research named after O. Yaremenko.
Tel.: 044 280 83 05, E-mail:



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