HIV / AIDS and children


What parliamentarians can do about HIV/AIDS



Priority actions

© UNICEF/ HQ03-0537/Pirozzi
Approximately 420,000 children in Mozambique have been orphaned because of AIDS.

The UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign is about concrete actions that can make a real difference in the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS. It’s about working differently to better coordinate our actions and resources. It’s about scaling up efforts in four areas of action that will enable us to halt and reverse the spread of HIV: preventing HIV infection among young people, preventing mother-to-child transmission, expanding care and treatment to children and their parents living with HIV/AIDS and providing care and protection for children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

Preventing infections among young people

In Mozambique, around 95,000 children aged 15-19 are living with HIV or AIDS.  The majority of them have been infected through sexual transmission. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable, with the rate of infection being three times higher than that of boys.

Prevention programmes must be radically scaled up, start from primary education and take place within a protective community environment. Young people must have access to information and life skills as well as youth-friendly and gender sensitive services. Programmes must include a strong focus on girls aimed at addressing their vulnerability and strengthening their capacity to have power over their sexuality.

Providing mothers with HIV testing, counselling and treatment

Each day in Mozambique 85 babies are infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission. HIV-positive women can pass the virus onto their baby during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding. Pregnant women who are HIV-positive can halve the chances of passing HIV on to their babies if they have access to treatment and prevention services.

HIV-counselling and testing must be introduced in routine ante-natal care programmes, and women must be able to opt for a HIV-test without fear of stigma and discrimination. Those who test positive must receive antiretroviral treatment so that they continue to be healthy and able to care for their child.

Giving more children access to treatment

Children born with HIV/AIDS have a very limited life expectancy. Half of them will die before their first birthday and half of the remainder will not survive their second year. In Mozambique only 27 percent of elegible children requiring treatment are receiving who are living with HIV receive paediatric treatment.    

Paediatric treatment, such as antiretroviral therapy, combined with good nutrition and immunisation may help children infected with HIV live healthy and prolonged lives. Antibiotics such as cotrimoxazole protect children from opportunistic infections including malaria and pneumonia and have been shown to reduce mortality in HIV-positive children by as much as 43 percent. At just US$0.03 a day, cotrimoxazole is a feasible, low-cost intervention that could make a real difference to children exposed to HIV.   

Caring for orphaned and vulnerable children

Approximately 350,000 children in Mozambique have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS, and many of them are caring for sick family members. These children take on the responsibility of making ends meet, and in many cases drop out of school to earn income and care for younger siblings. They are more vulnerable to malnutrition and exploitation.  The capacities of extended families that traditionally take on the role of caring for orphaned children are being stretched to breaking point.    

All orphaned and vulnerable children have the right to basic services such as education, shelter, clothes, nutrition and health care. We must also build the capacities of families and communities to protect orphans and vulnerable children from all forms of abuse, exploitation and loss of inheritance.



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