|© UNICEF video|
|Doctors and health workers from around the world have come together in New York for a three-day conference, organized by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, on care and treatment for children affected by HIV/AIDS.|
By Jane O’Brien and Kun Li
NEW YORK, USA, 13 January 2006 – In 2005, AIDS-related illnesses killed more than half a million children worldwide, and nearly 700,000 children were newly infected with HIV, according to health experts attending a three-day consultation on HIV treatment for children. Organized by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), the conference is looking at ways to expand the availability of treatment, care and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
In many countries children with HIV or AIDS receive little or no care. Drugs for children are often more expensive than those for adults and are not readily available. Voluntary and confidential HIV testing is critical to prevention and treatment; but until now, many countries have found it too expensive to make available.
“We are very concerned at the number of children involved and by the lack of progress of delivering HIV care. We have to respond urgently,” said Dr. Siobhan Crowley of the WHO’s HIV Department, which is working in close partnership with UNICEF.
|A Haitian child with a dose of anti-retroviral drugs at a UNICEF-supported orphanage in Port-au-Prince, the capital.|
Working in partnership
At the conference, doctors and health workers from around the world have shared their experiences in caring for children living with HIV. They have also discussed issues such as the linkage between HIV and child survival; the prevention of mother-to-child transmission; and the need for innovative care and treatment practices, such as community and home-based care for children infected or exposed to the virus.
“We are hoping that at the end of this consultation we come up with a generic plan that will provide a global programming framework for action for all countries across the world,” said Chewe Luo, UNICEF Senior Programme Adviser on HIV/AIDS and Health.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman thanked participants for their work in bringing a better life to children living with HIV/AIDS, and underlined the importance of working in partnership to combat the devastating disease. “We cannot afford to compete; we have to cooperate, in my view, to get the best results for children,” she said.
Ms. Veneman also made the connection to the global campaign UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS, saying the goal of the campaign is to “highlight the child as the missing face in the AIDS issue around the world.”