Odesa, 1 June 2006 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was joined by the Government of Ukraine, UNAIDS and other partners in launching the Global Campaign Unite for Children. 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.
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.
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