Working with Children and Adolescents Who Use Drugs

Objective: To prevent HIV and other socially dangerous diseases among young people who use psychoactive substances by providing harm reduction services and developing safer sex skills.


In 2015, ICF Alliance for Public Health, with financial support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, launched a Project “Harm Reduction Young People Who Use Drugs in Ukraine: Reaching the Undeserved”. The project covers five cities of Ukraine: Kyiv, Odessa, Poltava, Kharkiv, and Sloviansk. Convictus Ukraine is in charge of implementing the project in the capital city.


Studies conducted in the first stage of the Project have revealed that:


Drug use begins in early adolescence (ages 14 and under); adolescents can obtain any drugs without problems, both injected and non-injected; extremely low awareness about HIV, viral hepatitis and other negative consequences of drug use among adolescents; all groups of adolescents engage in risky sexual behavior, which can increase the risk of HIV transmission through sexual contact.


The second stage of the Project started in Kyiv in January 2016 and aims at providing prevention services to adolescents who use drugs to build skills for healthy living and prevent transition to injection drug use.


Target population: socially disadvantaged adolescents, students of vocational schools, colleges, boarding schools, socialized adolescents.


Objectives and tasks:

  • To develop safer behavior skills to reduce the risk of HIV infection, socially dangerous diseases and other consequences and risks associated with drug use and unsafe sexual behavior;
  • To prevent transition from non-injection to injection drug use among adolescents;
  • To train adolescents to dissemination prevention information in their communities;
  • To provide medical and social support (case management) of treatment, in particular to ensure effective referrals to other healthcare and social service providers and youth service projects;
  • To implement an active advocacy campaign for secondary prevention of drug use among adolescents.


Convictus Ukraine has initiated a youth club for adolescents facing difficult life circumstances where they can receive various services: HIV testing, medical and social support, harm reduction trainings, professional counseling, legal advice, exciting games, hobby classes and leisure time activities.


Project implemented with financial support from Elton John AIDS Foundation, EJAF through ICF Alliance for Public Health.