UNICEF integrates issues of HIV/AIDS throughout its programmes, from education for adolescents to training of health workers.
Because Bangladesh is a low prevalence country, UNICEF focuses on increasing access to HIV education and raising public awareness of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is one of four key issues being covered in a UNICEF-supported life-skills pilot project for secondary school students in ten districts. Children in adolescent centres and learning centres for working children also learn about HIV. UNICEF supported the Government to develop the National Communication Strategy for HIV 2005-2010.
Prevention of parent to child transmission
UNICEF is piloting a prevention of parent to child transmission (PPTCT) project for HIV-positive pregnant women and their families. Selected health facility staff are trained and equipped to provide antiretroviral prophylaxis, voluntary counselling, testing services, and care and support for infected women, their spouses and children. Thanks to increased HIV/AIDS education, 48 per cent of women now understand that mothers can transmit HIV to their babies during pregnancy, at delivery and when breastfeeding.
Through 146 drop-in centres in 44 districts, UNICEF has been supporting HIV/AIDS prevention activities among those most at risk of contracting the virus: injecting drug users, mobile populations, men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, and children forced into commercial sexual exploitation.
The centres provide health care (including treatment for sexually-transmitted infections), crisis shelter, counselling, health education, resting and recreation facilities, and referral and outreach services. The centres distributed over 6.6 million condoms, 2 million syringes and 1.3 million extra needles between January and September 2008. UNICEF will progressively withdraw from the drop-in centres as the Government of Bangladesh takes on full responsibility for this project in 2009.