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Russia battles to protect children from HIV/AIDS

A shortage of families willing to help orphaned children is slowing Russia’s progress in addressing a high rate of HIV and AIDS. A new generation of victims is emerging, as many HIV-positive children are abandoned or orphaned by their parents.

The situation in Russia is improving. Every Region has an AIDS centre, and the Moscow AIDS Orphanage is the most successful at finding homes for children.

This year it’s found homes for 25 children, while seven years ago the figure was 10.

The most important thing for our children is to find a family, to find parents. Not toys, not rattles, but parents. This is our chief task. The most important thing our children need in the first place is the family because the government can give them food, toys and clothes, but it cannot give them parents. And parental love- a father's, a mother's love- is indispensable for a child's development and its happiness

But prejudices still exist against children because people are frightened of them.

Government clinics and orphanages do their best, providing treatment and a caring environment but the one thing the toddlers really need - which government institutions can't provide - is a loving family.

Some orphanages do their best to find new homes for the youngsters.

Motya's mother died of the disease last year and with no family able to care for him he was sent to the Moscow AIDS Orphanage, where 17 children from newborns to three year old's live.

The Orphanage can give them drugs that will keep them alive, food and shelter, but they can't give them the love of a family of their own.

Yulia Vlatskaya of Moscow Aids Treatment Centre believes that "people wishing to take a child to their family must not fear the HIV infection diagnosis. I mean, if they think about it or are doubtful. Because currently there is an absolutely efficient medical support - I mean drugs and health checks. Also there are social allowances for such children and free drugs that can prolong their life. And in everyday life these children are absolutely harmless because HIV infection is very, very difficult to pass on - you can't catch it though normal contact."

Russia's adoption laws are easing, with foreign parents finding it easier to apply. But there are still more children, like Motya, than families who are willing to open their homes to them.


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