вторник, 20 декабря 2011 г.

Elton John and Elena Pinchuk announced their second joint project in Ukraine

On November 9, 2011 in Kiev the founders of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation (EPAAF) presented to journalists their second joint charitable project. Its goal is to help girls and young women who are spend most of their lives on the street and so are highly vulnerable to HIV, to gain access to HIV testing and to receive vital social, medical and legal assistance.


The project is implemented by the global health and human rights organization HealthRight International, with the generous financial support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which is supported by the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation.
Estimates place the number of children and young people living on the streets of Ukraine, mostly within big cities, at anywhere between 20,000-100,000.
Sir Elton John, founder of one of the biggest foundations fighting AIDS and Elena Pinchuk, founder of the ANTIAIDS Foundation, presented to media their new project and gave a brief update about the results to date of their three-year cooperation in Ukraine.
"We want to help thousands of girls to come up from the basements where they are cold, where they are exposed to violence, get infected with HIV and give birth. We want to bring them back to life. And we want them to know that a new life is possible. With the help of the project's centre, and advice from psychologists, help from medical workers and lawyers, this is possible", - said the founder of the ANTIAIDS Foundation Elena Pinchuk.
The two and a half year project, which is coordinated by the two Foundations and HealthRight, began in Kiev in February 2010, with the goal of building Ukrainian systems, capacity, and commitment to improve access to vital social, medical, and legal services for girls and young women who are vulnerable to HIV. The project is designed to help homeless and street-involved girls and young women between the ages of 14 and 24, including those who are deprived of parental care; graduates of orphanages; living in crisis shelters, internats or vocational schools; recently incarcerated; or involved in sex work. This population is at very high risk of HIV infection, and lacks access to medical, psychological and psychosocial care due to stigma and discrimination, financial barriers, and lack of legal residency or identity documents.
In April 2010, the project established the HealthRight Service Center for Girls and Women, in partnership with the Kiev City Center of Social Services for Family, Children and Youth. This partnership ensures the project's sustainability beyond the involvement of EJAF and EPAAF. During the past 18 months, more than 500 girls and young women have received care in the Service Center, which includes psychological, psychosocial and legal counseling; basic medical services, with referral for more advanced care; HIV-prevention education; facilitated access to drug rehabilitation, housing and state entitlements; assistance accessing education and employment; and support reestablishing communication with family members. All Service Center clients have access to HIV counseling, testing and referral, and 231 girls and women have been tested, with 47 (20%) testing HIV-positive. Thirty-nine of those testing positive have registered at the City AIDS Center thus far, including those who do not have identity documents. To enhance access for vulnerable youth, HealthRight also developed a referral network, which currently includes 43 state and non-governmental service providers.

The spread of HIV infection among the street children and youth in Ukraine
In 2008, HealthRight International jointly with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, conducted a survey on HIV prevalence and risk behaviors among street children and youth, ages 15-24, in Kiev, Odessa, and Donetsk. Research data showed alarmingly high levels of HIV infection among this population in all of three cities: Kiev - 18.7%, Odessa - 26.7%, Donetsk - 9.8%. Many of those who participated in the study were half-orphans or double orphans: Kiev - 49%, Odessa - 60%, Donetsk - 59%. Street girls and young women, who accounted for 24% of children and young people in the study, were found to be a particularly vulnerable subgroup of street youth. Many reported having more than one sexual partner at a time, and a significant number had been forced to have sex at least once. At the time of the study, some of the study participants were pregnant, but had no access to medical care and psychological support.
"Protecting young women and girls is the key to ending the AIDS epidemic around the globe" commented Sir Elton John, Founder of EJAF. "Their physical, social and economic vulnerability to sexual exploitation and hence HIV makes it essential to find additional ways to support and protect them. This programme does just that".
The results of the "Children Plus" Project
The joint project of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation called "Children Plus" has been already working in Ukraine for three years. The goal of this five-year project which is implemented by the All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV is to improve the lives of children born to HIV-positive mothers; integrate them into their social environment, change society's attitude towards these children and help them move from orphanages to foster families, new parents and guardians.
"Children Plus", a five year project, was launched in February 2008. It is implemented in 11 regions of Ukraine. Specialist technical support on disclosing HIV-positive diagnosis between parents and their children is provided by the Romanian Angel Appeal; one of the foremost agencies in Europe in this area. The financial input of the Elena Pinchuk ANTIAIDS Foundation is 2,5 mln USD. The Elton John AIDS Foundation provides financial and management oversight and resources and secured an additional 500,000 from the UK's Big Lottery Fund.
Critical to the progrmame is supporting vulnerable families to prevent their collapse and the ultimate institutionalization of children. To date the project has prevented the institutionalisation of 1 442 children (the goal by 2013 is 1 500 children) with HIV-positive parents from families in crisis. These children have stayed with their biological families due to the help of psychologists, social workers, and lawyers, who have collectively provided case management for the family and engaged children's parents in self-support groups and parenting schools.
Additionally 104 HIV positive orphans have been found new families (exceeding the project end goal of 96 children by 2013).
893 children have gone through the process of "status disclosure" (by 2013 this is set to rise to 1 000 children) which is critical to treatment adherence and life long self esteem and responsible sexual behaviour.
To reduce stigma against HIV in schools, 2 675 teachers from child care institutions have been trained on HIV/AIDS (by 2013 3 000 teachers will be trained). This is progressively reducing stigma and discrimination against children at schools and child care institutions who are affected or infection with HIV/AIDS.
The project is implemented in 11 regions: Cherkassy, Kharkov, Odessa, Poltava, Sumy, Nikolayev, Makeyevka, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Chernigov and Donetsk.