Ensuring government protection
Children are cared for primarily within families, but overall responsibility for ensuring their protection and well-being also resides with the national government. Governments must ensure that their laws are in line with current international standards, and that they allocate the resources and take the initiatives required to maximize children’s protection. They are responsible for ensuring that the justice system both protects children and understands their rights. They need to make a coherent link between emergency responses - such as providing swift and effective support to families - and longer-term development plans. People living with HIV/AIDS should be actively involved in developing and implementing policies. Among the main areas to be addressed are discrimination, foster care, inheritance rights, abuse and child labour.
Even after two decades of HIV/AIDS awareness, efforts to deal with the impact of the disease are still hampered by fear, ignorance and denial at all levels. Children orphaned or made vulnerable by the disease continue to pay a heavy price as a result, not only because the deaths of their parents could be prevented in a more open and informed social climate but also because of their own stigmatization and abuse.
In countries where strong political leadership has fostered openness and wide-ranging responses, such as Brazil, Thailand, Senegal and Uganda, there has been notable progress and new impetus in the fight against the disease. The greatest headway is made when young people are given all the information and encouragement they need to protect themselves and be able to participate in the programmes that support them.