|A child holds a dose antiretroviral drugs at a UNICEF-supported youth centre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti that provides food, shelter, medicine and psycho-social care for children affected by HIV/AIDS.|
By Kun Li
NEW YORK, USA, 13 June 2006 – Twenty-five years of the AIDS pandemic have redefined the very meaning of childhood. On 15-16 June, a special ‘Childhood and AIDS’ conference in Paris, France will highlight the urgent need to help millions of children who have been left vulnerable by this worldwide catastrophe.
"One thousand children die every day because of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, only 1 in 20 children has access to paediatric treatment, more than 15 million children are orphaned because of AIDS and yet children are the missing face of AIDS," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah, who will speak at the conference.
Each day, another 1,800 children become infected with HIV, most from mother-to-child transmission. Poor access to antiretroviral treatment has resulted in an estimated 380,000 children dying every year from AIDS-related illnesses.At the Childhood and AIDS conference, part of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign, UNICEF will be joined by a coalition of public- and private-sector organizations involved in HIV/AIDS policy and planning – including the French Development Agency, the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis, the Network for Therapeutic Solidarity in Hospitals and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Young people and experts
"This meeting in France is really a response to our campaign. This meeting mobilizes all countries, but most importantly French-speaking countries where AIDS is really rampant, like in West and Central Africa," said Ms. Salah.
With a goal of reaching the world’s conscience and making concrete plans of action, conference delegates will discuss how to:
Jamaican youth activist Kerrel McKay, who helped launch the global AIDS campaign, will be on hand at the Paris conference to discuss her experiences and ideas, along with other young people and some 360 experts, many of them from sub-Saharan African nations hit hard by AIDS.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and Médecins Sans Frontières Bernard Kouchner, will also make presentations at the two-day meeting.
Childhood and AIDS conference website
(external link, opens in a new window)