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"We are, we are here and together we are strong" – For the first time representatives of the Ukrainian authorities met c HIV-positive adolescents

Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative, answering the questions during the meeting

May 29, 2012, Kiev. - Ukrainian teens affected by HIV / AIDS epidemic for the first time met with representatives of Ukrainian authorities to tell about the challenges they face every day. The event, initiated by the adolescents themselves, held at the roundtable, "We are, we are here and together we are strong" with the support of the IBO, "East European and Central Asian Union of PLWH" and the UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. Round table was attended by eight teenagers from Nikolaev, Kiev, Odessa and Simferopol as well as representatives of public organizations and government agencies.

"Before I learned about my status, I lived with my grandmother. After the opening of status, she refused me. I went to the boarding school. Now, I graduated from college, but I was thrown out into the street. I have nowhere to go, "- said at a conference 19-year-old Leo. Almost all HIV-positive teenagers conceal their HIV status from others because of fear of being rejected: even close friends are often unaware of this. According to children themselves, there are many myths about HIV transmission in society, for example, many do not know that HIV is not transmitted through a mosquito bite.

"We are afraid to talk about our HIV status because people may reject us or become afraid. People know little about HIV infection, and we need to provide training and activities in schools, to tell people the truth about HIV and its transmission, "- said during a speech the 14-year-old Iana. "Also, we really need a special group and centers where HIV-positive adolescents would be able to meet and support each other."

Another of the issues raised - the lack of qualified professionals ready to answer questions about sexuality and reproductive health of kids talk about how to properly disclose their HIV status of family, friends and loved one.

"Unfortunately, children affected by HIV / AIDS epidemic in Ukraine are subject to stigma and discrimination that limit their access to social and health services. UNICEF calls on public and social organizations to join forces in ensuring the rights and opportunities for HIV-positive children. We hope that such meetings and dialogue between the interested parties will continue, "said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Chief Representative in Ukraine.

"We are facing problems that are not only psychological in nature. For half a year in Odessa, there was no children's medicine for the treatment of HIV, and children had to crush adult tablets, "- said at a roundtable Kotovich Albina, head of public organization of Odessa "Sunny circle". Adolescents confirm that because of frequent changes of therapy (sometimes every three months), their body has to re-adapt to a new drug that can cause side effects. "After changes of the treatment I often feel bad and have stomach ache" - said 12-year-old Vlad.

The number of children affected by HIV / AIDS epidemic continues to grow, and the number of HIV-infected pregnant women is increased by 20-30% each year. According to official statistics of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, during the period from 1995 to 2012 HIV-positive mothers gave birth to 32,504 children. Among them 2814 children have HIV-positive status, and 6735 children under the age of 18 months waiting for their status to be confirmed. 752 children have developed AIDS and 287 died of AIDS-related illnesses. There's no separate statistics with a clear differentiation by age, hence it is not possible to determine the exact number of adolescents affected by HIV.

As a result of the roundtable, it was decided to establish a working group for teens affected by HIV / AIDS and pass a resolution on the round table to the President of Ukraine.

"We are very grateful for our lives! Because of your care we've been given treatment. In most cases, we are given several pills that are hard to take. We're gently asking you to buy medicine that could be taken once a day. In this case, we'll suffer from no pain and other kids who don't know about our status won't question us on this matter” - was written in children's appeal to the President of Ukraine. 




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