Caritas Sounds the Alarm—in Europe Ukraine Hardest Hit by HIV/AIDS



Every year governments report to their citizens on their efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. This decision was made in May of 1988; the World Health Organization (WHO) approved a resolution which officially designated 1 December as International World AIDS Day.

“According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, at the end of 2007 HIV was spreading at a rate of 1.63% among the adult population of Ukraine (age 15-49). Today this figure is higher—this indicates that Ukraine is experiencing the highest rate of HIV/AIDS spread in Europe and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). According to statistics from the Ukrainian AIDS Centre, only 4% of the population voluntarily undergoes HIV testing (this excludes the pregnant and ill who automatically undergo testing) and currently know their HIV status,” says Halyna Korbelyak, Coordinator for Work with Children and Youths at Caritas Kyiv.


Caritas Kyiv has been helping children and young people who are experiencing some type of crisis for more than 10 years. Among their clients are those infected with HIV.

16 year old Olya, who is a regular Caritas client, explains: “recently the film The Cell ©2002 was screened for young people at our centre. This documentary about a shelter for HIV infected children was directed by Andrew Kaminsky, [an independent studio KA-Film which won an award at the Tokyo Film Festival, first prize at Lawlessness in Russia (Moscow), the international Artem Borovyk award, and a prize from the International Association of Journalists (USA)].

I know that this film has been entered into the Czech Cinema Foundation. It’s great! After seeing it, no one can remain indifferent—it prompted discussions and the sharing of information, impressions and personal experiences. Obviously, we all know what kind of threat HIV and AIDS are, but we ignore this information as we do our responsibility…

Caritas Kyiv organized a trip to visit sick children at the Berizka children’s building. Berizka opened in 1980. It is the only establishment that specializes in the medical and social rehabilitation of children and orphans with organic nervous system diseases, those who were born to HIV positive mothers or have HIV/AIDS.

This is the only children’s building in Kyiv which cares for HIV positive children alongside those not infected with HIV.

At this time 75 children live at Berizka. Their ages range from newborn to 5 years of age. Staff and volunteers of Caritas Kyiv have agreed to regularly visit this building and provide assistance to the children and their care takers. They claim to understand, better than others, the stigma associated with HIV and that HIV positive children need regular opportunities to socialize with others and to be cared for.


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