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HIV & AIDS and Children

HIV/AIDS in Emergencies

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1322/Marco Dormino
In Haiti, UNICEF supports many clinics offering HIV awareness activities and confidential HIV testing, as well as antenatal care, paediatric services and services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Conflicts and natural disasters, when combined with weak governance, displacement, food insecurity and poverty, can lead to humanitarian crises that have the potential of disrupting vital HIV/AIDS services and increasing the vulnerability to HIV infection among affected populations. Unless adequate measures are taken, HIV transmission may increase during post-emergency, recovery and reconstruction periods, as a result of factors such as mass displacement, greater incidence of sexual violence or broken down school, health, protection and communication systems. Emergencies can also worsen existing vulnerabilities within disproportionately affected groups, including people living with HIV/AIDS, adolescent girls, orphans and other vulnerable children.

Therefore, overall achievement of results towards an AIDS free generation is linked to UNICEF’s and other partners’ efforts to implement innovative forms of programme delivery in fragile environments and  incorporate a strong focus on emergency preparedness and resilience to the compounding effects of climate change, disasters and conflicts. 

HIV/AIDS is both a stand-alone and cross cutting issue within humanitarian response. UNICEF therefore implements combined approaches to respond to HIV and AIDS in humanitarian action. The response is context-specific and will adapt to the crisis (e.g. nutrition crisis, conflict).  Particular emphasis is placed on continuing treatment for pregnant women and children and on testing and providing treatment when appropriate. Other elements of the response include HIV-related education and provision of antiretrovirals to prevent HIV infection for children and adults who have experienced sexual violence. 

The revised UNICEF Core Commitments to Children and the revised IASC Guidelines on Addressing HIV in Humanitarian Settings provide guidance on what UNICEF is obligated to provide in order to ensure a multisectoral response to HIV/AIDS in humanitarian settings. UNICEF is also a member of the IATT on HIV in emergencies co-led by UNHCR and WFP.

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