Activity in Ukraine

United Nations Children's Fund

UNICEF Ukraine opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. Since then we have been working to improve the lives of children and families throughout Ukraine. In 2006 UNICEF Ukraine launched a programme that reflects the country’s pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals that include improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and protecting the vulnerable and promoting gender equalty.

UNICEF is assisting the Government of Ukraine to fulfill its obligations towards children as set forth in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In practice, this means that we are working with government partners and civil society to:

  • - Protect children and women from HIV and AIDS
  • - Help children to a good start in life
  • - Protect children from abandonment, violence and abuse
  • - Support more effective advocacy and policies, improved child rights monitoring and increased participation

Mission and vision in relation to AIDS response

Mission and vision in relation to AIDS response

Ukraine is the country worst affected by HIV/AIDS in Europe. Annual HIV diagnoses in Ukraine have more than doubled since 20011. Injecting drug use is still driving the spread of HIV but the disease is now spreading fast among the broader young population through unprotected sex and also from mothers to their babies. The number of children infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) continues to increase due to the 20-30 per cent yearly increase in HIV-infected pregnant women. In 2009, HIV prevalence among pregnant women was 0.55 per cent, the highest in Europe2. On the positive side, there has been an increase in antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). However, only a minority of children and families affected by HIV receive care and support services.

There is a need to expand PMTCT coverage to vulnerable groups (IDUs, CSWs), who are at the centre of the epidemic and currently left out of PMTCT services. This should be done through the development of strong partnerships between the state structures and NGOs that work with these groups of women. Inclusion of PMTCT outreach services and harm reduction are also seen as ways of expanding the coverage of PMTCT.

Most at risk adolescents (MARA) (10-18 years old) are in the core of the HIV/AIDS epidemic due to unsafe behaviours, serious service access barriers and many other vulnerability factors. HIV prevalence based on the results of a secondary analysis of data on adolescent injecting drug users (IDUs) and female sex workers (FSWs) aged 15 to 19 was 11 per cent among adolescent FSWs and 29 per cent among adolescent male IDUs3.

The research further demonstrated that risk behaviour starts early and is more common among adolescents than among adults. Younger people’s lower knowledge levels about HIV/AIDS account for this. So does the fact that they are less covered with prevention services and use them more rarely than adults. HIV prevention among young people is the key to averting a full-fledged epidemic. There is a need to develop information, social and education services for all children and young people to ensure that they are protected from HIV/AIDS.

Brief description of programmes/projects related to HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

Brief description of programmes/projects related to HIV/AIDS in Ukraine

The main purpose of the UNICEF-supported HIV/AIDS programme in Ukraine, as the 2006–2011 Country Programme Document (CPD) stated, is to put young children and adolescents at the centre of the HIV/AIDS agenda and to build the capacity of state and non-state actors to halt and to begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS among children.

The following key results are planned to be achieved in 2010-2011 in the focus area on HIV/AIDS, Children and Youth:

  • - Coverage of the PMTCT programme expanded to vulnerable groups of women through the introduction of a comprehensive services model.
  • - Increased capacity of care providers of HIV-positive children in antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and care practices through technical support to the new National Training Centre on Paediatric AIDS and introduction of Dry Blood Spot (DBS) technology for early HIV diagnostics among newborns.
  • - Care and support services for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS strengthened through capacity building of the care providers working in the state day-care centres and development of methodological, education and information materials.
  • - Strengthened quality assurance system of services in youth friendly clinics (YFCs) through revision and optimization of the assessment tools and evaluation standards.
  • - Inclusion of Most at Risk Adolescents (MARA) as a group in the country HIV response by integrating MARA-related interventions in the existing projects and policies on the most at risk populations groups. A scaling up plan on MARA and HIV interventions is produced.
  • - Health education supported by data on health behaviour and substance abuse among school-aged children.

Our goal is to protect young people from HIV/AIDS and associated threats to their health and to provide care for children affected by HIV/AIDS. We focus on the development of youth-friendly health and social services, access to and quality of health care, education for young people on HIV prevention, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and advocacy for national policies for young people. And we support the development of national policies and programmes for the prevention of HIV transmission from HIV-positive mothers to their children and for care and support for children living with HIV/AIDS.


Dr. Rudi Luchmann

Deputy Representative

+380 44 254 24 36

Dr. Tetyana Tarasova

HIV/AIDS Officer

+380 44 254 24 36

Olena Sakovych

Youth & Adolescent Development Specialist

+380 44 254 24 36