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The missing face of AIDS

October 25th, 2005

Dr Petra

Today UNICEF and UNAIDS launch a global campaign to help children affected by HIV/AIDS. It’s called ‘unite for children, unite for AIDS’.

The shocking statistics about children and HIV tell us how desperately action is needed. Every minute
- A child dies of an AIDS-related illness
- A child becomes infected with HIV
- Four young people aged 15-24 become infected with HIV

There are also 15 million children who’ve lost at least one parent or been orphaned by AIDS, and yet less than 10% of these children receive public support or services.

UNICEF stated children affected by HIV/AIDS are the ‘missing face’ of the disease.

They are not included in local, global or national policy decisions on HIV/AIDS and lack access to basic care and prevention services. They’re suffering psychological consequences of losing a parent or sibling, the trauma of being a social outcast, and also miss out on schooling, play and other childhood activities.

At the launch of the campaign Kofi Annan (Secretary General of the UN) stated: “Nearly 25 years into the pandemic, help is reaching less than 10 percent of the children affected by HIV/AIDS, leaving too many children to grow up alone, grow up too fast or not grow up at all…Simply put, AIDS is wreaking havoc on childhood.”

The global campaign has a number of internationally agreed children-focused goals in 4 key result areas:

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission
The vast majority of the half-million children under the age of 15 who die from AIDS-related illnesses every year contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission. The campaign aims by 2010 to provide 80 percent of women in need with access to services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. Currently less than 10 per cent of women have access to these services.

Paediatric treatment
Less than 5 per cent of HIV-positive children in need of AIDS treatment are receiving it, and only 1 per cent of children born to HIV-infected mothers have access to cotrimoxazole, a low-cost antibiotic that can nearly halve child deaths from AIDS by fighting off deadly infections. The campaign aims by 2010 to provide antiretroviral treatment and/or cotrimoxazole to 80 percent of children in need.

Adolescents and young people age 15-24 account for roughly half of all new HIV infections, but the vast majority of young people have no access to the information, skills and services needed to protect themselves from HIV. The campaign aims by 2010 to reduce the percentage of young people living with HIV by 25 per cent, in line with agreed international goals.

Protection and support of children affected by AIDS
By 2010, it is estimated that there will be 18 million children who have lost at least one parent to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa alone. Well before parents die, children – especially girls – have to take on adult tasks such as caring for the sick, looking after younger siblings, generating income to pay for health costs, or producing food. Often they must drop out of school. The campaign aims by 2010 to reach 80 per cent of children most in need of public support and services.

In order to achieve these aims $55 billion will be needed over the next three years. There’s a current funding gap of at least $18 billion. The campaign stresses AIDS funding needs to be increased dramatically, but of that funding a significant amount ought to be targeted at children affected by HIV/AIDS.

There are several ways to support this campaign:

You can donate money.

Or you can join the campaign.

The website includes facts and figures about HIV/AIDS and children, information about celebrities and others supporting the campaign, an update on global activities, and a press area where you can keep abreast of the campaign’s progress.

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