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RUSSIA: Access to HIV Testing, Prevention, and Care Services for Street Youth

Maria, a beneficiary of DOW's
program for HIV+ street youth
With more than one million people in the country estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, Russia has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world.  Eighty percent of people living with HIV in Russia are under the age of 30 and sharing needles is the main route of HIV transmission.  Street and at-risk children and youth, who often engage in high-risk behaviors such as sex work and drug use, are at particular risk.  A study conducted in 2006 by HealthRight and the CDC found that more than 37% of street youth in St. Petersburg were HIV-positive.  Routinely denied health care or other services because of widespread discrimination, street and at-risk children and youth have little knowledge of HIV prevention methods and lack means to access testing and treatment.
 
Since 2006, HealthRight has been working to build access to comprehensive medical, social, and psychological services for street youth, and to help stem the spread of the epidemic through prevention and outreach efforts.
 
Voluntary counseling and testing
HealthRight has established a mobile outreach unit to visit areas where street and at-risk children and youth live and gather, providing nearly 400 youth with free HIV counseling and testing, as well as referrals to a variety of services.  Since the launch of the project, HealthRight and its partners have provided hundreds of HIV-positive youth with psychosocial support and medical services. 
 
Facilitating access to care
Through a key partnership with the City AIDS Center, St. Petersburg’s only public facility providing HIV treatment, HealthRight helps HIV-positive youth navigate the complex registration process to become eligible for services so they can access treatment and other essential medical care.  HealthRight also trains public sector health and social services staff in providing services that are welcoming of youth and respectful of their rights. 
 
Prevention and education
To increase awareness of HIV risks and prevention methods, HealthRight has developed educational materials specifically targeting street youth.  In 2007, HealthRight and its local partner Doctors to Children pioneered the use of HIV prevention workshops to equip street and at-risk children and youth in St. Petersburg with the knowledge and skills they need to preserve their health.  The workshops – developed with input from and participation of youth themselves – are specifically designed to reach street youth through language and activities tailored to their interests and needs.
 
Temporary Housing
In 2007, HealthRight established an overnight shelter to provide youth in crisis with a stable place to stay.  In partnership with DTC and Frunzensky District Administration, HealthRight opened a Halfway House for drug-involved, HIV-positive youth, which enables clients to live in a supportive, caring environment while they seek treatment for HIV and substance abuse.  
 
 


               
      
      
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OTHER PROJECTS IN RUSSIA:

Support for At-Risk Youth

MAMA+ Project

Foster Family Project