HIV/AIDS among Russian street kids is worse than expected

By November 20, 2006

Russia (MNN) — There are more than 750,000 children in orphanages in Russia. There are 1.2 million streets kids in Russia, a number higher than during World War II. Now, Christians are more emboldened than ever to reach out to this segment of society, especially since HIV/AIDS is running rampant in this demographic.

Russian Ministries just completed two conferences — ‘The Eastern European Summit for Children at Risk’ and the ‘HIV and AIDS Forum of Good Practice and Networking’. More than 300 people representing national ministries all over the region participated in the conference, says the President of Russian Ministries Anita Deyneka.

“It is so horrifying what is happening in this country with HIV. In one report there was a random survey of street children ages 15 to 19 in St. Petersburg. 37-percent were HIV positive. In an orphanage the increase was 67-percent of those sampled,” says Deyneka.

According to Deyneka, the ministries represented have pledged to work together to reach out to these at risk children. Deyneka says, “The answer is prevention, reaching them before (they reach adolescence), first of all, with the Gospel — the hope of Christ. And then (give them) information about AIDS.”

According to Deyneka the Russian government plans to introduce child welfare legislation that will promote foster care and adoption through financial aid. She says this will be a great opportunity for the church. “It makes all the difference in the world into what kind of home the child goes. It is Christians who have so much love for children and want to express the love of Christ and these opportunities have not opened to this extent before.”

As Christians open their hearts and homes, children will come to Christ. The heart change that coincides with that could dramatically curb the HIV infection rate. It will also dramatically reduce the number of street children and children in orphanages.

Deyneka says this will be the next big ministry push for the national church in Russia.

The legislation is expected to provide financial aid for families, making it easier for Christians to reach out to children. Deyneka says, “50 to 60-percent of the population live below the poverty line, and that includes many Christians who have very small homes with low income and yet big hearts.”

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