Protection and care for children affected by AIDS
University student peer educators target first-year female students in Papua New Guinea
• In 2007, an estimated 15 million children globally had lost one or both parents to AIDS, including nearly 12 million children in sub-Saharan Africa.
• UNAIDS 2008 global data reveals an estimated 370,000 children younger than 15 years became infected with HIV in 2007. The number of children younger than 15 years living with HIV increased from 1.6 million in 2001 to 2.0 million in 2007.
• Affected children endure many hardships because of stigma and discrimination: poverty, neglect, psychosocial distress, loss of inheritance and educational opportunities, sexual abuse and exploitation, hazardous labour and social isolation. Many affected children also are at risk of contracting HIV because of these circumstances.
• Social welfare systems in our region can barely accommodate the current number of orphans, let alone a rise in the number of children orphaned because of AIDS.
• Institutional care is the last resort for children, but many countries rely heavily on it. Children in institutions are frequently denied individual attention and affection, which harms their long-term development. In worst-case scenarios, children are subjected to abuse and exploitation within institutional walls.
• By fuelling poverty, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, disparities present serious challenges in providing care, support and protection to all children.
UNICEF in action
UNICEF seeks to improve the protection, care and support of children affected by HIV or AIDS by taking these actions:
• Calling on governments to endorse and put into immediate action The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV/AIDS
• Convening a Regional Partnership Forum on Children and AIDS in 2008 to review the progress of the commitment made in key areas of action since the March 2006 Regional Consultation on Children and AIDS, which include: undertaking situation assessments of children affected by AIDS; updating legislation, policy and guidelines to protect, support and care for AIDS-affected and other vulnerable children; scaling up the four Ps; ensuring adequate resource mobilization and allocation; strengthening multi-sector responses; reducing stigma and discrimination; providing children with family-like care; putting in place proper monitoring systems for assessing programme effectiveness and relevance; and strengthening coordination at the regional and international levels. The Hanoi Call to Action was subsequently adopted at the 12th ASEAN Summit Special Session on HIV and AIDS in January 2007 in Manila, Philippines.
• Advocating community-based, faith-based and multi-sector approaches to providing support and care for children affected by HIV or AIDS and their families; combining high-level advocacy with community-based intervention to inform policy-making
• Advocating that institutional care be used only as the last resort, or as a temporary solution, and focusing on community-based care
• Supporting high-level advocacy to strengthen social welfare systems
• Combating stigma and discrimination through government leadership, legal reform, public awareness campaigns and peer education
• Strengthening national monitoring and evaluation system for children and HIV
• Supporting national assessments of children affected by AIDS.