HIV in Moldova

29 May

Blog post by Heather E., Team Moldova 2011

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Within bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.  The four major routes of transmission are unsafe sex, contaminated needles, breast milk, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth.   In the tiny country of Moldova, Adolescents and young people who are out of school are especially at risk.  Only 19% of females (ages 15-24) have knowledge about HIV prevention methods.  On top of that being a small percentage, that doesn’t specify home life conditions or consider younger girls.

The spread of HIV in Moldova is linked to high population density. Since 2004, Moldova started moving from a concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic that effected men who were mostly injecting drug users to an equal ratio of men and women because of heterosexual transmission. 

As of December 2005, a total of 2322 HIV cases had been reported, of which 79% were attributed to those infected through injecting drugs. Most of the affected population (82%) are aged 20–39 years. The epidemic is relatively young, with the highest HIV incidence rates in 1997–1998.  The most affected regions are Balti, Transnistria (populated by a Slavic majority, mostly Ukrainians and Russians and remaining outside of government control due to political reasons) and Chisinau, the capital.

A sentinel survey among street sex workers in 2003 found 4.6% HIV prevalence and 13% hepatitis C prevalence, which suggested that injecting drug use remains among the major risk factors (10% of sex workers confirmed unsafe drug injecting practices during 2004) Since many orphaned girls are sold into sex work we can see the correlation. Sexual transmission of HIV has been increasing and Moldova’s orphan girls are at critical risk of being bought and sold into the evil hands that face HIV.

Currently in Moldova, The Ministry of Health supports the activities of youth-friendly health centers.  These community-based youth centers are now offering sex education, life skills, and cultural programs to young people in after-school settings, but nothing for specifically for orphaned children.  However, the Moldovan Network of NGOs in the Social Field is actively contributing to the government’s policy plans related to youth, poverty reduction, and development. An extension of the network runs the country’s only hotline for people with concerns about HIV, drug use, and sexually transmitted infections.  Unfortunately you must be informed in order to call this hotline, and most orphans are not.

 Heather will be serving on the Moldova Journey 117 Team leaving in June 2011.

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