Ukraine has the highest HIV prevalence in Europe, with young people being at a particularly high risk. A study conducted in four Ukrainian cities shows that homeless youth are at high risk of contracting HIV due to high injection drug use, commercial sex work, and unprotected heterosexual sex and male-to-male sex.

More than 15 percent of the adolescents (aged 10-19 years) in the study reported injection druge use. Almost three-fourths were sexually active, most of which started before age 15. Almost 10 percent of boys engaged in male-to-male sex. More than 56 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys reported receiving money, gifts or drugs in exchange for sex.

The study also highlighted the disturbing reality of regular violence, including by police. Nearly half of girls experienced forced sex and boys that engage in male-to-male sex were also at higher risk of sexual assault.

1. Busza JR, Balakireva OM, Teltschik A, et al. Street-based adolescents at high risk of HIV in Ukraine. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published online 23 Sep 2010. (open access)