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Ukraine: HIV/AIDS Survey and Follow Up Services for Street Youth

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ukraine is growing at an alarming rate, with over 410,000 children and adults aged 15 years and older estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.  Over 80% of those infected are under age 30, and 25% are currently under the age of 20.  There is concern that street youth are affected most, as they are susceptible to sexual exploitation, drug use, and other risk factors.  According to official estimates, there are 30,000 - 150,000 youth living on the streets of Ukraine. A 2004-2005 study of 25 children living and working on the streets in Kyiv found that five were HIV-positive, and of 29 children tested in Odessa, 20 were HIV-positive.  In addition, an HIV prevalence and risk factor survey conducted among 300 street youth in St. Petersburg, Russia by the St. Petersburg AIDS Center, HealthRight International (formerly Doctors of the World-USA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified 37.4% HIV prevalence among this group.  Given that the high rate of drug use, sexual exploitation, and other risk factors among this population are present in both Russia and Ukraine, these results indicate that HIV prevalence among street youth in urban areas of Ukraine may be comparably high. 

In response to the need for accurate HIV data, HealthRight has partnered with the CDC to implement an assessment of HIV prevalence and risk behaviors among street youth in Kyiv, Odessa, and Donetsk.  Because street children and youth have been left out of targeted HIV prevention and treatment planning, HealthRight is working in partnership with local government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to use the survey’s results to make HIV and related services available to street children and youth.  

The project aims to carry out a rapid assessment of HIV prevalence among 900 youth, ages 15-24, who are living or working on the streets of Kyiv, Odessa, and Donetsk and make comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, and support services accessible to street children and youth in these cities and throughout Ukraine.