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An attempt to start a new life

A young commercial sex worker takes an HIV express test

Svitlana had to get to know the adult life quite early. She had not even reached fifteen years old when she left home. Parents were addicted to alcohol, so the girl always stood out among her classmates being poorly dressed, neglected and often starving. It seemed to her that she found some real friends on the street. Coming from disadvantaged families, mostly they were like her, understanding each other fairly well and finding common ground easily. She was less and less interested in school studies and due to classmate’s abuses she wasn’t welling to meet them once again. Thus, Sveta left school at all and street has become her new “school”.

Once, when she was asking for cigarettes from café visitors, the girl got acquainted with Sergiy. He asked her out to a café, fed her, treated with champagne and afterwards even invited her to his house. At that time Svitlana couldn’t even suspect about consequences of such acquaintances. It seemed to her that this man, being 20 years older than her, was a real noble knight. She had lived with him for some time in his apartment. But one day he informed her that his assignment is over and tomorrow he is going to leave the city forever.

Long lasting depression, pointless wanderings around the city, cigarette after cigarette, random sex for getting money for her necessities have become normal for Svitlana… Girl has lost sense of life. Once, being in a café, she met a girl named Rita. The latter chatted with Svitlana and later helped her to find a short term apartment. It was Rita who brought Svitlana to the mobile clinic of Mykolaiv charity fund “Unitus”. Introduction to a social worker, information about fund’s services such as medical consulting, HIV-testing, working with a psychologist, support centre, informative lectures, development programs are those benefits that Svitlana got in the fund.

When she learnt that she was HIV positive, at first she couldn’t even realize what had happened. She asked again: “Positive –means good, right?” And when she found out more details, she couldn’t believe it, she was assured that there must be some mistake, such things couldn’t occur to her. Later she became shut in herself, didn’t want to see anybody, cried and considered her life to be over with only pain and death onwards.

It was complicated for the social worker of “Unitus” to make Svitlana come for a meeting, to talk and to visit the psychologist. Intensive work with experts, meetings with other girls and successful example of young HIV-positive women that are leading healthy lifestyle have helped Svitlana once again. Medical workers, whom Svitlana was directed to, from the fund, explained her that life is going on. The girl has started taking antiretroviral therapy and realized the importance of adhering to the prescribed treatment. She understood that both her health and her life depend solely on herself. The fund assisted her in finding a job. Svitlana got a job in a beauty salon. So far she is a cleaning lady, but she plans to graduate from evening school in order to obtain a certificate and to be able to grasp skills in a hairdresser profession. Also she dreams about having a family.

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Starting from 2013 UNICEF, with the support of the M.A.C. (Make-up Art Cosmetics) AIDS Fund, implements a project on ensuring access of children and adolescents that are involved in risky practices to the HIV treatment and prevention as well as on introducing new methods of early infant diagnostics of HIV. Campaign is planned to be implemented in three Ukrainian cities – Kyiv, Mykolaiv and Donetsk with participation of local partner organizations. One of the main target audiences of the project are most at risk adolescents such as injecting drug users, children living and working on the streets and young female commercial sex workers.



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