Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Training Curriculum to Help Ukraine Create a More Inclusive Environment for HIV-Affected Families

Opening Mother and Child Centers to HIV-positive women and their children, ensuring those most at-risk have access to temporary housing and shelter

On February 25, 2008, Ukraine’s Order of State Social Service announced plans to officially adopt a new training curriculum as the official state training program for its Mother and Child Centers (MCCs).  The curriculum was developed in partnership with HealthRight International (formerly Doctors of the World-USA).
The MCCs, established by the Ukrainian government to address a tremendous gap in housing and support services available to homeless and at-risk mothers and their children, provide temporary shelter to homeless new mothers and their infants while social workers assist them to find permanent housing.  However, the MCCs have prohibited women with HIV from accessing these services, categorizing HIV as an infectious disease that threatens other residents.
HealthRight developed its MCC training curriculum in order to address misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and to reverse discriminatory practices against HIV-positive women, whose housing and support service needs are particularly acute. Since 2005, HealthRight has worked through its MAMA+ Project to build access to comprehensive services for HIV-affected women in Ukraine and to reduce high rates of child abandonment. By partnering with state social services to promote a tolerant and well-informed understanding of HIV/AIDS among staff, HealthRight aims to ensure state-sponsored housing and support services are inclusive of HIV-affected women and their families. 
HealthRight has been active in Ukraine since 2005, building the capacity of the local health and social services systems to address the needs of HIV-affected women and families as well as street and at-risk children and youth. HealthRight’s MAMA+ Project and drop-in centers for street and at-risk children and youth fill gaps in services to traditionally marginalized populations. In 2007, HealthRight helped establish a precedent for the inclusion of HIV-affected women in state-provided social services by assisting the first three HIV-positive women to be admitted into state crisis centers that provide temporary shelter to women in need. 
The adoption of HealthRight’s MCC training program by the state marks another step forward in the fight to end discriminatory practices against those living with HIV/AIDS and to ensure that their right to health is recognized and promoted.