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Thousands of Ukrainian children have inherited HIV through their mothers

January 12, 2007, 0:00 3721 Author: Inna Vedernikova (translated by Yulia Mirnaya for deti.zp.ua) "Zerkalo nedeli" Ukrainian newspaper

Thousands of Ukrainian children have inherited HIV through their mothers. These children are in need of special attention, care and support. Too often HIV-positive children are stigmatised twice- first for being orphans and secondly as the children with the disease. Many of them above the age of 4 are still residing in an orphanage for 0-4 years old. Orphanages for older children refuse to admit a child with such diagnosis. On a rare occasion when they are admitted, children fall victims of discrimination and abuse from an orphanage's personnel and other children. They do not attend school and do not get invited to play with their peers.

On 15th May 2006, these and similar matters were refer to in a symposium dedicated to problems of AIDS and HIV- positive children held in Moscow. Experts from Russia, Ukraine, Romania and France joined together to discuss their countries' governmental and other organisations' involvement in resolving these issues. Elena Franchuk's Foundation " AntiAIDS" was the initiator of the symposium.

The main objective of the symposium entitled " HIV-positive orphans-situation in Eastern European countries. Role of public organisations, governments and societies" - was to increase the public awareness as to the problems of HIV- infected kids in post-soviet union and other countries in Eastern and Western Europe. The conference was benchmarked to that of Western Europe and Central Asia.

For the first time, renown politicians, academics, representatives of charitable organisations and individuals living with HIV and AIDS were brought together in the same room to come up with a strategy of overcoming the epidemic which the disease has become.

During the discussion, Nina Riabova, ward sister from St-Petersburg's Hospital for Infectious Diseases presented a new system of care for AIDS/HIV positive children living in the hospital. An expert from Romania, Kalin Pop, shared his experiences of treating the children, their allocation to special orphanages and about the system of placing a child to a foster home as opposed to an orphanage. Miriam Mercy, director of the French foundation " International Organisation for AIDS/HIV-positive orphans" has seconded Mr Pop preference of foster families over orphanages as she talked about her experience of working with children diagnosed with the disease.

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