Russia has one of the fastest growing AIDS epidemics in the world, with 100 new infections every day. Increasingly, women and their infants are being affected. Latest figures show 22,000 babies have been born to HIV-positive women. And many are being abandoned by their mothers into the care of the state.
Today, street children in the region are dying of AIDS and drug use. Newly diagnosed HIV cases increased by eight percent in Russia in 2009. Some areas have experienced a 700 percent increase in rates of infection since 2006.
Widespread social stigmatization and discrimination associated with these diseases also threaten to drive the epidemic underground.
Street children and children in poverty are particularly at risk with a third of new cases of HIV infection affecting the 15-24 age group. Recent research suggests up to 40 percent of homeless children in the Saint Petersburg could be infected with the virus. (statistic from UNICEF)