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HIV & AIDS and Children

Young People join Carol Bellamy to tell British Prime Minister about HIV/AIDS

© UNICEF UK/2004/Aberman
17-year-old Qadriya Al Bolushi from Oman and 14-year-old Lidia Mekkonen from Ethiopia shares her experience of HIV/AIDS with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn.

LONDON, 20 July 2004 -- Seven young people from the developing world met the British Prime Minister Tony Blair today and told him about their experience of living with HIV/AIDS.

The visit to London was organised by the UNICEF UK National Committee after a personal request from Mr Blair who has pledged 150 million pounds sterling to help children who have been orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy accompanied the young people to 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister’s official residence, and praised their role in helping raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

© UNICEF UK/2004/Aberman
UNICEF Chief Executive Carol Bellamy (centre) outside 10 Downing Street, London with (from L to R) Sergiy Goncharuk, 22, from Ukraine; Lidia Mekkonen, 14, from Ethiopia; Millengo Jackson, 27, from Tanzania; Nelao Martin, 23, from Namibia; Ricky Tombling,

“(Mr Blair) told us that he wanted to hear from us how HIV/AIDS has touched our lives. It was great to be able to get across my thoughts and experiences and it’s fantastic that UNICEF gave me this unique opportunity,” said 14-year-old Lidia Mekonnen from Ethiopia who sat next to the Prime Minister during the round table discussion.

Three of the young people who met Tony Blair are HIV positive. Others, like Lidia have close family who have died or are still living with the disease. They have all experienced stigma and are working to create a better understanding of HIV/AIDS. Some have worked closely with UNICEF in their own countries.

After the meeting, Carol Bellamy welcomed the British government’s funding for projects to help orphans and vulnerable children.
“UNICEF applauds the UK Government for putting children, women and young people at the forefront of its efforts to tackle the unprecedented threat of HIV/AIDS,” she said. “Millions of children's lives have been devastated by the AIDS crisis. The focus of the new strategy, including additional funding, will make a real and lasting difference in many young lives."



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