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The experts named five risks to the health of young people in Russia 

6th of April, Moscow

 The experts of Public Health and Social Development Foundation FOCUS-MEDIA, that have been implementing programs to improve the well-being of young people in Russia since 2002, named five major risks to the health of young people in our country on the eve of International Health Day, 7th of April.

 According to the Fund’s experts the major harm to the health of young men and women in Russia is caused by smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV, early pregnancy, abortion, and psychological problems. All these factors contribute to appearing chronic diseases , leading to disability and significantly reduce life expectancy. “We are observing  alarming trends in Russia. Children get their first smoking experiences when they are 8-10 years old, 7% of girls and 40% of boys smoke by 15-19 years. The peak of mass involvement to alcohol abuse has shifted to the age group of 14-15 years. The same group is tackled by drug abuse,” says the Director of FOCUS-MEDIA,  medical doctor Evgenia Alekseeva.

Psychological problems faced by schoolchildren when they are growing up and overcoming puberty, educational failures, and difficult relationships with parents and peers often push young people into risky behavior. “Psychological problems can also lead to suicidal thoughts or bullying at school. Under the influence of the so-called “death groups” in social networks there is an upsurge of suicides among adolescents. Unfortunately, society underestimates the seriousness of this problem,” considers Oksana Barkalova, the  Deputy Director of the Foundation.

Despite the fact that in recent years, HIV infection in Russia has been mainly diagnosed in older age groups, the problem of HIV transmission among young people remains challenging. More than half of the patients newly diagnosed in 2019 in Russia were infected by heterosexual contacts (62.7%). Moreover, among all HIV-infected Russians identified in 1987-2019 with a known route of infection, 60% were infected through drug abuse.

“Given the risks of drug addiction among young people, as well as the fact that the theme of sexual relations is still taboo in Russian schools, children cannot receive reliable information on how to protect themselves and their environment from HIV infection. We believe that the risks among young people can increase if we do not pay enough attention to this problem and take preventive measures. The same can be said about sexually transmitted infectionss,” said Evgenia Alekseeva.
Another threat to the health of the young generation in Russia is unwanted pregnancy and abortion, which is also associated with the insufficient level of awareness of boys and girls about sexual relationships.

According to the WHO data, teenage pregnancy is a global problem. At least 10 million cases of unwanted pregnancy occur among teenage girls every year in the world, while in Russia 10 thousand pregnancies are registered annually in girls under the age of 18. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of girls’ death aged 15-19 years in the world.

Adolescents who might have avoided pregnancy and other threats may not be able to do this due to a lack of knowledge and misconceptions. In the our organisation we  implement a program for the protection of youth health “Journey4Life.” This is an exciting program, aiming to the young people’s personality, leadership, and self-confidence development for a successful life start.

In the classroom, we change the behavior of adolescents through discussion of issues relevant to young people, situations that may occur in their lives. We also carry out a series of exercises that give children an understanding of how the choice of the behavior model can affect their future”,said the Director of the Foundation. The programme “Journey4life” consists of regular meetings (Encounters) of 1-1.5 hours, led by trained young people of 18-23 years old, the called Champions4life (youth leaders). As a rule, these trainings are held in educational settings. Youth leaders become role models and knowledge managers, initiate discussion and co-education, looking at familiar facts, asking questions and encouraging exchange of views. Every year, the program “Journey4life” covers up to five thousand people, trains and provides support to the work of Champions4life teams in eight regions.
REFERENCE: in connection with the epidemiological situation because of the spread of COVID-19 in the world, there will be the delay of the implementation of face-to-face events: trainings and meetings planned in March-April will be postponed to the summer 2020. More attention will be devoted to online activities. In particular, young people will be able to improve their knowledge of employment and reproductive health on the online platforms of the project Career4me.ru and 2live.ru 

PR Service of FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation, Tel. WhatsApp +7(926)0163519 (Tatyana Vinogradova)