The area and towns directly around the reactor have been abandoned, and many nearby towns still suffer the effects of elevated radiation. My friend's neice, who was born several years after the incident, died as a result of a heart condition which is now known as "Chernobyl Heart." There are many children who suffer ill health due to the accident and the radiation still present.
There is an interesting story about a girl who rides her motorcycle through the ghost towns. Apparently, it is not all true, but the photos are still haunting, and it is worth the read.