Children and HIV and AIDS

World AIDS Day 2007: Despite progress on many fronts, children remain vulnerable

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ05-1988/Noorani
Lawino, 9, orphaned by AIDS, stands inside her family’s hut in the Latanya camp for displaced people in the northern Pader District of Uganda. She lives with her two siblings and attends a UNICEF-supported camp school.

By Dan Thomas

NEW YORK, USA, 30 November 2007 – The impact of HIV and AIDS on children and young people continues to be of critical significance as campaigners mark World AIDS Day, 1 December, this year.

The issue will be highlighted in a special film funded by UNICEF and broadcast on BBC World and repeated four times over the weekend. For viewing times please click here. ‘Who’s Afraid of HIV?’ follows the story of 17-year-old Ompelege Mame Sefiwa from Botswana, who lost both parents by the time she was five years old and later contracted HIV.

Produced by Andrew Veitch from Rockhopper TV, the 24-minute documentary features an interview with Barbara Reynolds, UNICEF’s Representative in Botswana, a country where nearly one in four people is living with HIV.

Vulnerable children still in urgent need

“Children and young people are still in a very difficult situation,” said UNICEF’s Senior Policy Advisor on HIV and AIDS, Tom Franklin. “We have to make sure that all vulnerable children get into school, that all vulnerable children have access to health care. And we have to help the elderly caregivers, the families and the communities, that are helping these children,” he added.

In October 2005, UNICEF, UNAIDS and many other partners launched the five-year Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign to help draw the world’s attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS on children and young people.

“The needs are urgent. The goals are ambitious. And with our collective effort, they are also reachable,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said at the launch, describing the four key result areas of the campaign:

  • Prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; by 2010, offer appropriate services to 80 per cent of women in need
  • Provide paediatric treatment; by 2010, provide either antiretroviral treatment or cotrimoxazole, or both, to 80 per cent of children in need
  • Prevent infection among adolescents and young people; by 2010, reduce the percentage of young people living with HIV by 25 per cent globally
  • Protect and support children affected by HIV/AIDS; by 2010, reach 80 per cent of children most in need of public support and services.
UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Video
Tennis world champion and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer appears in a UNICEF public service announcement on HIV/AIDS for World AIDS Day, 1 December.

AIDS campaign’s high-profile supporters

Tennis star Roger Federer is the latest UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to support the campaign by recording a special World AIDS Day video message to raise awareness about the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.

Mr. Federer joins many other celebrities and sports personalities in lending their voices to the AIDS campaign, including Whoopi Goldberg, David Beckham, Amitabh Bachchan and Shakira, as well as stars from the National Basketball Association and the International Cricket Council.

“The theme of this World AIDS Day is leadership. Without it, we will never get ahead of the epidemic,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

‘Time for compassionate leadership’

Since the beginning of the epidemic, experience has clearly demonstrated that significant advances in the response to HIV have been achieved when there is strong and committed leadership.

“We are well into the third decade of a scourge that has expanded exponentially beyond a small specific group to almost every corner of the globe,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a special World AIDS Day message. “Whilst in some areas, incidence may have turned, prevalence continues to rise and will do so for a long time – more young people will be infected, more orphans will occur.

“It is the time for compassionate leadership that recognizes that the voiceless are often those who suffer most. Who can they turn to if their leaders do not listen and heed their cries?” Archbishop Tutu asked.


 

 

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View highlights of ‘Who’s Afraid of HIV?’, a UNICEF-funded documentary to be broadcast on BBC World on World AIDS Day 2007.
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Watch Roger Federer’s public service announcement for World AIDS Day in three languages.

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