Jamaican to chair launch of UN Global Campaign on Children and AIDS
Miss Kerrel McKay, 20 year old AIDS activist and member of the Portland AIDS Committee has been selected by the United Nations to chair the launch on Tuesday, 25 October of a five-year Global Campaign on Children and AIDS.
Led by the United Nations Children’s Fund and UNAIDS, the campaign is aimed at calling attention to the impact on HIV on children. Entitled “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS”, it will seek to mobilize resources to scale up interventions to prevent new infections, help children affected by HIV/AIDS and ensure children have a central place on the global HIV/AIDS agenda.
Between 2001 and 2003, the global number of children orphaned by AIDS increased from 11.5 million to 15 million. In 2004, 510,000 children under the age of 15 died of AIDS related illnesses, 640,000 were newly infected with HIV and 2.2 million are living with the virus. The lives of these children are being radically altered by the impact of HIV/AIDS on their families, communities, schools, health care and welfare systems. At present globally, less than five per cent of orphans are receiving public support, less than two per cent of HIV positive children are receiving treatment and only eight percent of HIV positive women have access to PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission) services.
“I am excited about participating in the Global Launch and am thrilled to be introducing someone of the stature of Kofi Annan, presenting him is a big dream coming true. This campaign will in a practical sense put the issue of children and AIDS on the international agenda. Children who are infected and affected do need practical help - food, clothes, drugs, education, and above all family and peer support. I certainly hope that the campaign fulfills its objectives”, Ms. McKay states.
Miss McKay is among a number of young people from Namibia, Ukraine, Thailand and India who will be participating in the launch of the campaign and a series of events including a roundtable discussion on “Adolescents and HIV” prevention. She is being featured on the UNICEF website as a young person who at age 14 managed to overcome the loss of her father from AIDS and has gone on to become a champion advocate as a member of the UNICEF-supported Portland AIDS Committee. She expects to graduate from teachers college in 2005.