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Partnership to Prevent HIV Among Vulnerable Russian Youth
Date:3/18/2009

USAID, HealthRight International and Johnson & Johnson formalize a partnership to prevent the spread of HIV among street children and at-risk youth in St. Petersburg, Russia.

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A public-private partnership to prevent the spread of HIV and increase access to HIV treatment and care among street children and other vulnerable youth in St. Petersburg, Russia was announced by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), HealthRight International and Johnson & Johnson at the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation today.

Estimates indicate that there are up to 10,000 street children and youth in St. Petersburg, many of whom struggle with substance abuse and other risky behaviors. Studies demonstrate extremely high rates of HIV transmission (37.4%) among this group, who have limited access to clinical treatment and care.

With support from USAID's Russia program and Johnson & Johnson, HealthRight International (formerly Doctors of the World-USA) together with its local partner, Doctors to Children, will reach 500 vulnerable youth with effective HIV prevention messages and a broad continuum of services, including mobile voluntary testing for HIV and referrals to treatment and care. The project will also develop a cadre of social workers trained in HIV prevention among street youth and disseminate a package of HIV prevention best practices to government institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across St. Petersburg.

"We are very pleased to join Johnson & Johnson and HealthRight International in a partnership to reach the most vulnerable youth with critically needed HIV prevention messages and services," said Leon Waskin, USAID's Director in Russia. "This initiative builds on a previous collaboration that has demonstrated the impact we can achieve when we combine our resources and capabilities. I also want to thank the government in St. Petersburg for their support for this effort, both in the past and going forward, which is so important for the project's success."

"Johnson & Johnson and HealthRight International are long-time partners on HIV/AIDS prevention and support for abandoned, neglected and at-risk children and youth in St. Petersburg," said Naira Adamian, managing director for Janssen-Cilag Russia, the pharmaceutical division of Johnson & Johnson in Russia. "Investing in children infected or affected by the disease is a key strategy within our HIV/AIDS philanthropy portfolio. We are excited to work together with USAID to advance HealthRight's mission."

"Partnerships such as this -- engaging the local community, NGOs, private support, and public support from both the Russian and U.S. governments -- is exactly the formula we need to ensure that children and youth in crisis not only get assistance today, but have a real chance at a future," said HealthRight executive director Tom Dougherty. "These projects take time and investment, but the pay off is well worth it."

Building on the Success of Past Collaboration

Since 2004, USAID has supported HealthRight International and its Russian partner, Doctors to Children, to develop a model community reintegration program for street youth. Johnson & Johnson began supporting the initiative in 2005, along with the St. Petersburg City Administration and other partners. In 2005 and 2006, the project established the first municipal drop-in center for street children and youth and an overnight shelter for HIV-positive clients in the Fruzensky District of St. Petersburg. The shelter provides medical and psychological assistance, referrals to social and health care, and access to anti-retroviral treatment at the St. Petersburg AIDS Center.

About USAID

USAID is the lead agency of the U.S. government providing development and humanitarian assistance in over 100 countries worldwide. USAID has been operating in Russia since 1992, supporting Russian and international organizations in the areas of health, child welfare, civil society, rule of law, economic growth and local governance. USAID works in partnership with Russia to help improve the quality of life of the Russian people and to cooperatively address global issues that impact both our countries. For more information, go to http://www.usaid.gov or http://russia.usaid.gov.

About HealthRight International

HealthRight International (formerly Doctors of the World-USA) is a private, not-for-profit, global health and human rights organization working to build lasting access to health for excluded communities. The organization conducts projects and partnerships in the Russian Federation addressing the needs of street children and at-risk youth. For more information, go to http://www.healthright.org

About Johnson & Johnson

Caring for the world, one person at a time...inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our 119,000 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. Johnson & Johnson supports more than 100 HIV/AIDS philanthropy programs in 50 countries.

Public Information: 202-712-4810


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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development
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