From now on, all children affected by HIV/AIDS will have access to anti-retrovirals (ARVs), thanks to the alliance of the Brazilian government, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the government of Guinea-Bissau. The “Brazil + 7” aims at guaranteeing universal access to prevention against HIV/AIDS and to integrated care and treatment for people living with AIDS.
“An estimated 6000 Bissau-Guinean children affected by HIV/AIDS cannot be overlooked and immediate response must be given to their specific needs and to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Jean Dricot, UNICEF Bissau Representative. “For UNICEF, the launching of the pediatric treatment against AIDS is a step forward towards the protection of the Bissau-Guinean children and coming generation, in line with the Millennium Development Goal number six,” he added.
A national policy for HIV/AIDS treatment, the training of medical personnel along with essential drugs are being made available in order to halt the more than 1,500 children infected with HIV in Guinea-Bissau every year. Before the launching of the pediatric treatment drive, only less than one per cent of these children received treatment.
According to the Minister of Public Health, “the government of Guinea-Bissau, as one of the signatories of the CRC, is making all necessary efforts to fulfill the children’s right for health and protection, in collaboration with its development partners.”
UNICEF and other partners have been supporting the government in order to ensure HIV and AIDS testing, treatment and care for affected children, the reduction of parent to child HIV transmission along with awareness campaigns that are particularly targeted at the youth population.
HIV/AIDS in Guinea-Bissau
The importance of the AIDS epidemic is clear to the Government, which notes that “a further evolution (of this epidemic) would be disastrous to the country’s development and that AIDS is a social problem which requires alerting society and mobilizing support from all partners to intensify the fight against the disease."
The first diagnosed case of AIDS in Guinea-Bissau was reported in 1985. Currently there are an estimated 53,000 HIV-infected adults. During the period 2003-2005, out of 384 children tested, 10 were positive (2.6per cent). It is estimated that 15,000 young people are living with HIV. In 2005 an overall HIV prevalence of 7.3per cent among pregnant women admitted at the national hospital in the capital city Bissau (compared to 4.0per cent in 2000).
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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