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The risk of AIDS for children is increasing, even in BIH

In 2006, the first case of mother to child transmission of HIV was recorded in BiH. Underreporting of HIV infections, the poor socio-economic status of population, insufficient education and knowledge on HIV/AIDS, a fragmented public health sector in terms of surveillance and data collection and an increase in risk behaviors among young people are the major challenges facing BIH. Another challenge, especially when it comes to children, is stigma which is fuelled fear based on a lack of understanding of how the virus is transmitted.. A few months ago, the child of father registered as HIV positive, faced a serious form of stigma, and was almost expelled from the community, when other parents decided to withdraw their children from the kindergarten.

UNICEF in BIH works with its partners to overcome these challenges and to ensure that children and young people are  prioritised in policy and service responses. This includes support to the government to develop a monitoring system for HIV and AIDS and development of legal framework for harm reduction activities. UNICEF in BIH also piloted outreach  activites to most at risk adolescents and has been promoting Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing Services for HIV, organising a study among injecting drug users in three towns in BiH that will provide valuable data on this population, patterns of their risk behavior, prevalence of HIV, and the first scientifically estimated population size.

The latest global data on HIV/AIDS show almost 40 million people living with HIV, out of that 2,3 children bellow 15. More than 4 million new infections, occurred in 2006, mostly among those 15-24 years old , including 530,000 children. During this year, 380,000 children younger than 15 died of AIDS related illnesses.

Despite all the efforts taken in many countries, HIV prevention programmes are often not sustainable or not reaching people most at risk of being infected, for example  young people, sex workers and their clients, intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men. After the first case of AIDS was reported 25 years ago, the global epidemic continues to grow.

Last year UNICEF launched the Global Campaign “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” in more than 160 countries, aiming to offer appropriate services to women in need, provide antiretroviral treatment of children in need, reduce the percentage of young people living with HIV and to reach the children most in need. The campaign aims to unite governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS, vulnerable groups, NGOs, all the public sectors, media and celebrities in halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among children, adolescents and young people.



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