HIV/AIDS hitting Russia children hard, government requests help

By August 13, 2004

Russia (MNN) — It’s now estimated that around 1 million people aged 15 to 49 are living with HIV in the Russian Federation. Driving these epidemics are intravenous drug use and promiscuity among young people. Women account for 33-percent of the new infections, which has accounted for a sharp rise in mother-to child transmission of HIV.

That’s placing an incredible burden on the already taxed orphan population. While the exact numbers aren’t known, the number of HIV/AIDS orphans is climbing and baby homes and orphanages in Russia aren’t prepared. That’s why the government is asking for help.

Buckner Orphan Care International is an accredited adoption agency in Russia and provides assistance to many orphanages in the region. Buckner’s Amy Norton says, “The ministry of health and the directors are asking us for help because they have really no way to care for these children, no places to put them, and it’s just growing in proportion by the day.”

Norton says the government is asking Buckner to help with renovating baby homes and orphanages to accommodate these needy children. She says funding is a desperate need right now. “We would like to come into some of these homes with our Christian mission teams, and have Christian churches and other ministry partners helping in the financial needs that they have. Evangelism as well as our teams going in and ministering to these children is a wonderful thing, because many of these children won’t live to see adulthood,” she says.

These children desperately need parents. Norton says, “When a child is born from an HIV positive mother, and almost all cases the mother relinquishes her rights to that child. Right now we actually have a number of children who are available for adoption, who were born from HIV positive mothers, but who are not HIV positive.” She says Russians rarely adopt healthy children, let alone children with an HIV stigma.

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