Children and HIV and AIDS

Africa’s orphans at higher risk of HIV, says report

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/ HQ05-0710/Nesbitt
Children residing at Consol Homes Orphan Care in the village of Namitete near Lilongwe, Malawi. Many of the children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

By Dan Thomas

TORONTO, Canada, 15 August 2006 – African children orphaned as a result of AIDS, especially adolescent girls and young women in the 15-24 age group, are at higher risk of HIV infection than other children, according to a report issued yesterday by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

"We must do more to help. Millions of children affected by AIDS are out of school, growing up alone, vulnerable to poverty, marginalization and discrimination,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah told journalists at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

“Children who have lost parents and care-givers are left without their first line of defence,” she added. “One of the most effective ways to keep these children safe is to invest in education, especially for girls. In keeping with the theme of the Toronto International AIDS conference, ‘Time to Deliver’, we have a moral obligation to act with no delay.”

The missing face of AIDS

According to the new report, entitled ‘Africa’s Orphaned and Vulnerable Generations: Children Affected by AIDS’, 12 million of the 48 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa have lost one or both parents to AIDS. In the most affected countries, it is proving increasingly difficult for surviving parents or their extended families to protect and care for the expanding number of orphans and vulnerable children.

"President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has brought increased attention to families and to children living with and affected by HIV/AIDS," said Assistant Administrator Kent Hill of the Bureau for Global Health at USAID. "To date, the Emergency Plan has supported care for 3 million people, including 1.2 million orphans and vulnerable children. With the number of AIDS orphans still growing, we must accelerate this progress."

The situation of children affected by AIDS varies significantly across families, communities and countries. The report shows that, compared to other children, they are at higher risk of missing out on school, living in homes with insufficient food and suffering from anxiety.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/2006/Thomas
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah and HIV/AIDS Chief Peter McDermott meet former US President Bill Clinton at AIDS 2006, the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada.

“Responding to the needs of children affected by AIDS is complex. The data presented in this report will lead to better responses, reflecting local realities and meeting local needs,” said the Director of the UNAIDS Country and Regional Support Department, Michel Sidibe.

The report on orphaned and vulnerable children was launched as part of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN, UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign, which aims to put the missing face of children at the centre of the HIV/AIDS agenda. The global campaign serves as a platform for united efforts to stop the spread of the AIDS epidemic and its impact on children.

Before launching the report yesterday, Ms. Salah and HIV/AIDS Chief Peter McDermott met former US President Bill Clinton to discuss joint efforts to stop children being born with AIDS and to provide drugs to children who are HIV-positive.

Project Officer honoured

The second day of the biennial International AIDS Conference, also knows as AIDS 2006, started with an awards ceremony at which UNICEF’s Penelope Campbell was recognized as the winner of a prestigious international award for young women working to prevent HIV and AIDS.

Ms. Campbell, 35, collected the 2006 Young Investigator Prize: Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS Award for her pioneering work on the ‘Bashy Bus’ initiative with young people in Jamaica, where she works as a UNICEF Project Officer. The Bashy Bus is a mobile HIV-testing clinic and counselling service for young Jamaicans.

The award was conferred by the International AIDS Society and the International Centre for Research on Women, with the support of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS.


 

 

Video

14 August 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Thomas Nybo reports on day two at AIDS 2006, the XVI International AIDS Conference.
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14 August 2006:
UNICEF Correspondent John Allison reports on a new report, ‘Africa's Orphaned and Vulnerable Generations: Children Affected by AIDS’.
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Audio

15 August 2006:
UNICEF's Children and AIDS Advisor in Eastern and Southern Africa, Douglas Webb, provides an overview of orphans and vulnerable children in the region.
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AIDS 2006 conference

18 August 2006
Young people are key to world’s response [with video]

15 August 2006
Africa’s orphans at higher risk [with video]

UNICEF Project Officer honoured

14 August 2006
Conference opens: Time to deliver [with video]

Conflict increases AIDS dangers [with video]

10 August 2006
Young people prepare to be heard [with video]

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