Ministry of Health and UNICEF Launches New Training Programme to Support HIV Positive Children
Kyiv, 20 March 2007 - The Ministry of Health with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a new training programme on how to ensure that HIV-positive children are properly treated with medicines to save their lives.
Specialists from Odessa Medical University have developed a five-day training module for healthcare specialists, educators, parents, social workers and community representatives. ‘This training is urgently needed to raise awareness among healthcare specialists and other caregivers on provision of treatment to HIV-positive children’, said Alla Shcherbinska, Director of the Ukrainian AIDS Centre. ‘The training module will be the basis for the organisation of training at the local level.’
Ukraine is the country worst affected by HIV/AIDS in Europe with 1.5 per cent of the adult population estimated to be infected by HIV. At the same time the HIV epidemic in Ukraine is increasingly affecting reproductive age women under 25. Over 80 per cent of HIV-positive people in Ukraine are under 30 years of age, while children are also increasingly under threat from the epidemic.
The number of children affected by HIV/AIDS is constantly growing in Ukraine. To date close to 12,000 children have been born to HIV-positive women, of which 6,000 are HIV-negative, some 4,600 under 18 months old are awaiting confirmation of their HIV status, while 1,367 are HIV-positive. In the last two years 190 children have already died of AIDS (official data of Ukrainian AIDS Centre, 2007). In 2006 alone, 119 children were newly registered as having AIDS.
According to the Government’s road map, all children with HIV will be provided with access to diagnostics, prophylaxis and treatment as required. To date 752 children already receive antiretroviral therapy, the specific treatment for HIV-positive children, with a plan for more children to receive such treatment in the near future.
However, not all caregivers are aware about how to administer antiretroviral therapy correctly. The Ukrainian AIDS Centre registered a number of cases when health care specialists sometimes interrupted antiretroviral therapy to children, potentially causing serious complications to the health and even lives of those children.
Effective antiretroviral treatment requires that adequate numbers of qualified medical and social workers, particularly those who take care of HIV-positive children on a daily basis. These include parents and guardians, social workers, educators from children’s homes and boarding schools who will be trained to provide quality treatment to children according to national protocols.
The new training programme is a part of the Global Campaign Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS that was initiated in Ukraine in 2006 by UNICEF, UNAIDS and other partners to galvanise action for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The campaign is urging for a faster response to help children and young people to prevent HIV, to ensure that mothers can prevent transmission of HIV to their unborn child, to ensure paediatric treatment for children in need and provide for the needs of children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS.
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