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The AIDS Pandemic and Children

Deaths due to AIDS:

  • Every minute of every day, a child under the age of 15 dies because of AIDS.
  • AIDS claimed three million lives in 2004. One of every six of them was a child under the age of 15.
  • In 2004, 510,000 children under 15 years old died because of AIDS.

HIV infection among children and young people:

  • Each year, 640,000 children under 15 are infected with HIV. Without treatment, half of them will die before their second birthday.
  • Nearly 90 percent of new child HIV infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa, but the number of such infections is increasing in other areas, particularly Asia.
  • Every 15 seconds, a young person between the ages of 15 and 24 is infected with HIV.
  • In 2004, more than 2 million young people aged 15 to 24 were newly infected with HIV.

Mother-to-child transmission:

  • The overwhelming majority of children under 15 who are HIV-positive got infected through their mothers. But less than 10 percent of pregnant women are offered services to stop the spread of HIV to their babies.
  • Without preventive interventions, roughly one third of infants born to HIV-positive mothers will acquire the virus during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding.

Paediatric treatment:

  • One widely available drug, cotrimoxazole, can nearly halve child deaths from HIV/AIDS. The drug costs as little as three U.S. cents a day. But only 1 percent of children who need it have access to it.
  • An estimated 4 million children, some already diagnosed with HIV and others born to HIV-positive mothers but not yet diagnosed, need access to cotrimoxazole, which is proven to fight off deadly infections.
  • There are roughly 660,000 children under the age of 15 who need access to antiretroviral treatment.
  • Less than 5 percent of HIV-positive children in need of anti-retroviral medicine receive it.

Orphans and vulnerable children:

  • It is estimated that by the year 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 18 million children – more than all the children in the United Kingdom, will have lost at least one parent to AIDS.
  • Less than 10 percent of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS are receiving some kind of public support.


  • The vast majority of young people do not have access to the information, skills and services that are essential for HIV/AIDS prevention.




unite for children