Elton John and Elena Pinchuk announced their second joint project in Ukraine
December 20, 2011 Leave a comment
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.