|UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé gives a keynote address at the Fifth Global Partners Forum on Children affected by HIV and AIDS.|
NEW YORK, USA, 3 June 2011 – More than 16 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS since the epidemic began. The majority of them are from sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest region.
Maximizing the impact of programmes providing care, protection and support for children affected by HIV and AIDS is the focus of the Fifth Global Partners Forum taking place in New York City.
The two-day forum – hosted by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – has brought together 100 high-level representatives from governments, donors, civil society, international organizations and academic institutions.
“The key theme of this meeting is taking evidence to impact. We do know some things that work for AIDS-affected children. Our challenge is to apply those in different epidemic settings where resources are limited,” said UNICEF Chief of HIV and AIDS Jimmy Kolker.
|Participants attend the Fifth Global Partners Forum in New York. This year's focus is on evidence-based approaches to programmes helping children affected by HIV and AIDS.|
Even with an increase in the accessibility of anti-retroviral treatment and the success of efforts aimed at eliminating new HIV infections in infants and children, the number of orphaned children is expected to remain high in the coming years.
“These children face stigma and dejection within their own community and even within their own families,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Martin Mogwanja. “HIV – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa – continues to be a major driving cause of poverty and vulnerability that, in turn, makes children, especially girls, more susceptible to HIV infections.”
Mr. Mogwanja explained that treatment efforts in the worst affected regions of sub-Saharan Africa are still lagging and reiterated the urgent need to adopt and implement a comprehensive approach.
“Since the last Global Partners Forum in 2008, some of the countries that provided funding to these programmes have cut back. We need to promote smarter investments in this neglected area, as well as make this existing funding go further towards measurable results,” he said.
Ambassador Eric Goosby, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, renewed PEPFAR’s commitment to keeping its current level of funding for HIV and AIDS initiatives that target vulnerable children.
|Chief of HIV and AIDS section at UNICEF, Jimmy Kolker, speaks at the Fifth Global Partners Forum. The two-day conference is being attended by 100 high-level representatives.|
“We continue to engage in this work because it is desperately needed for the long term security and stability of the children, the stability of the families and societies in which they live. They truly are the future, and to ignore them would be to ignore the future,” he said.
Through PEPFAR, the US Government is supporting the single largest commitment any nation has ever made to combatting AIDS internationally. “Governments and communities are truly the champions for the children who are truly alone,” said Mr. Goosby.
Other panellists emphasized the need to strengthen families affected by HIV and AIDS, and improve the resources available to them so they can care for children. Efforts aimed at keeping parents healthy and productive through treatment were central to the discussions.
“AIDS can’t be addressed in isolation. It’s time for us to talk about integration,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, who stressed the importance of a holistic approach. “We need to be practical in our programmatic approaches, promoting cash transfers, strengthening the economic basis of caregivers and increasing capacities of poor families to support their children.
The Fifth Global Partners forum comes ahead of the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, which will take place 8-10 June in New York. World leaders will come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global response to the AIDS crisis.
UN Radio speaks with UNICEF Chief of HIV/AIDS Jimmy Kolker, ahead of the Fifth Global Partners Forum.
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