The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was joined on 1 June by the Government of Ukraine, UNAIDS and other partners in launching the Global Campaign Unite for Children, according to the UN Ukraine’s office. Unite against AIDS in Ukraine and renewed its call to galvanise action for children and families affected by AIDS. The primary goal of the Campaign is to unite the actions of decision makers - the Government, local authorities, business leaders - and the general public and to place children at the centre of the response to HIV/AIDS.
The Campaign was initiated by the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, urging a faster response to help children and young people to prevent HIV, to ensure that mothers can prevent the 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.
Ukraine remains the country in Europe worst affected by HIV/AIDS with 1.4 per cent of the population aged 15 to 49 estimated to be infected with HIV. Children in Ukraine are also threatened by HIV/AIDS: to date some 11, 000 children have been born to HIV-positive mothers and 186 have already died of AIDS. Over 80 per cent of HIV positive people in Ukraine are under 30 while the HIV pandemic is increasingly affecting women, especially those under the age of 25.
‘HIV/AIDS is not someone else’s problem. It is mine and it is yours. Fighting HIV is the responsibility of every single one of us. Only together can we make a difference for the future of our country and our children,’ Liliya Podkopayeva, Olympic Champion and UN Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS in Ukraine said.
The Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS Campaign aims to alert governments, decision makers and the general public to the fact that children are missing from the global AIDS agenda. The Campaign seeks to achieve the following four goals in Ukraine by 2010:
• Decrease mother-to-child HIV transmission to less than 5 per cent through increased provision of prenatal care and sexual and reproductive health services to all women and couples who need them.
• Provide paediatric treatment with antiretroviral and other special medications to all children who need them.
• Prevent new infections, reducing the number of young people living with HIV/AIDS by 25 per cent.
• Protect and care for children affected by AIDS, providing support to at least 80 percent of children in need of care and services.
A recent UNICEF-supported survey in Ukraine revealed that HIV-positive women and their children still face high levels of stigma in the health care system, educational institutions, at the workplace and in their communities and families.
‘One of the major challenges we face is the need to break the silence, and address the denial that surrounds HIV/AIDS. Children are the ‘missing face’ of the pandemic and they need our immediate action. This requires visionary leadership and significant individual courage,’ said Jeremy Hartley, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
‘We will not prevent infections unless we overcome the widespread stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and address the needs of the most vulnerable groups – especially children and young people.’
A National Consultation around the Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS Campaign that brought together civil society activists, heads of government authorities, the donor community, people living with HIV/AIDS, UN agencies and young people produced a joint call for action and the basis for a national strategy for the Campaign over the next five years.
‘It is very encouraging to see Ukraine joining the growing number of countries launching this Campaign for children. The priorities of the Campaign may not be new for Ukraine, but they are intended to reinforce and dramatically expand all our work on HIV/AIDS with a vision to free young lives from the crushing burden of HIV/AIDS and make a real difference to children’s lives,” added Jeremy Hartley.
The Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS Campaign was launched globally at the United Nations in New York in October 2005. The President of Ukraine was present in New York at this time, attending the World Summit on the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations.