Children and HIV and AIDS

'Saving Lives': Global movement unites behind children’s right to HIV treatment

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ02-0332/Pirozzi
A health worker in Zimbabwe dispenses antiretroviral drugs, or ARVs. Access to ARVs is one of the key topics in a new report on HIV/AIDS treatment for children.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 26 May 2006 — Every minute, a child dies from an AIDS-related illness, and only 1 child in 20 who needs HIV treatment receives it. There is an urgent need for the international community to do more to treat children living with HIV.

That was the message highlighted today at United Nations headquarters for the launch of a report by the Global Movement for Children. The report, ‘Saving Lives: Children’s right to HIV and AIDS treatment’, is an appeal to protect children from the disease, provide them with antiretroviral treatment and invest in their future.

“Most of you have heard me say many times that children are the missing face of the AIDS pandemic,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ06-0597/Markisz
Left to right: Save the Children USA CEO Charles MacCormack, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman and World Vision International President Dean Hirsch launch ‘Saving Lives: Children’s right to HIV and AIDS treatment’.

“In the 25 years since the start of the pandemic, the world has viewed HIV/AIDS primarily as a disease of adults,” she continued. “Yet because of AIDS, children are missing parents, missing teachers, missing treatment and care, missing protection, missing many things – except for the devastating effects of this disease.”
 
‘Saving Lives’ recommendations

The Global Movement is made up of UNICEF and six other leading child advocacy organizations: Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, World Vision, ENDA Tiers Monde and the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Children.

‘Saving Lives’, launched just a few days before the start of the UN Special Session on HIV and AIDS (to be held 31 May to 2 June), was presented simultaneously in 16 countries worldwide. The report’s specific recommendations include the following:

  • Develop and make available simple and affordable diagnostic tests for HIV in children
  • Increase research and development for child-specific treatment
  • Improve health-care systems in developing countries to improve drug delivery systems
  • Establish child-specific treatment targets.

The report also notes that few drugs are presently available in formulations that are both affordable and child-friendly. Meanwhile, the development of new drugs continues to focus mainly on adults.

Delivering on the promise

While the majority of people with HIV are adults, children living with HIV represent a disproportionate number of those who require immediate treatment. Children account for 18 per cent of all AIDS deaths worldwide.

“Approximately 2,000 children are infected with HIV every day,” said Global Movement Chairman and World Vision International President Dean Hirsch. “If the world knew this, we would understand that these deaths are not inevitable, and HIV-positive children can and do respond to antiretroviral treatment.

“So let’s deliver on the promise that’s been made: treatment for all by 2010.”


 

 

Video

26 May 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sabine Dolan covers the launch of a report by the Global Movement for Children at United Nations headquarters.
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