More action needed to reduce impact of HIV and AIDS on children in East Asia and Pacific
BANGKOK, 3 April 2008 – The number of children living with HIV who receive antiretroviral treatment in East Asia and Pacific increased by nearly forty per cent between 2005-2006, according to the latest data contained in a newly released UNICEF report.
More countries have national programs in place to prevent mothers from passing HIV to their newborns, more treatment, protection, and care services are available and a growing number of vulnerable children have access to education and social protection according to the UNICEF Second Stocktaking Report on HIV and AIDS, released globally today.
The new data was released at the East Asia and Pacific Regional Partnership Forum on Children and HIV. The three-day meeting, which ended yesterday, brought together 150 delegates from governments, international, regional and national organisations from 19 countries in the region to review the progress made since the 2006 Hanoi Regional Consultation on Children and AIDS and the Hanoi Call to Action. This Call, which commits leaders to put children at the centre of the HIV response, was endorsed by ASEAN Heads of State and Government at their 12th Summit Special Session on HIV and AIDS in the Philippines in 2007.
Much to do
“In many countries, we now have better analyses of the situation; we have better policies and guidelines in place; and we are better able to reach those children most at risk," said UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific Anupama Rao Singh. “But we still have much to do. Service coverage remains inadequate and prevention, treatment and care have not yet translated effectively into strong coordination between health, education, judicial and social welfare systems."
In some countries in the region the epidemic is still on the rise. In Viet Nam, the estimated number of people living with HIV more than doubled between 2001 and 2005 from 120,000 to 260,000, while Indonesia has the fastest growing epidemic in the region, with many new infections amongst young people. The number of women infected is also growing: 29 per cent of all new infections in Asia are among females.
Former Prime Minister of Thailand and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, His Excellency Anand Panyarachun reminded delegates during a keynote address that it had taken the highest political leadership in Thailand to mount a successful national program to address HIV and tackle stigma and discrimination.
With almost 20 per cent more new infections in East Asia in 2007 than in 2001, he warned that there is never room for complacency.
“The challenge we face now both in Thailand and elsewhere is how to sustain the commitment made and the momentum generated over recent years,” he said. “It is clear that as the AIDS epidemic grows and matures, the number of children affected will increase. A child-centered approach to HIV is vital and this calls for strong policy measures and programs to protect children from multiple vulnerabilities and the likelihood of them repeating their parent’s journey and becoming the next generation of those most at risk of HIV.
The Children and AIDS Second Stocktaking Report measures progress since the 2005 launch of UNICEF’s Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign against four primary targets:
1. Prevent Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT)
2. Provide Paediatric Treatment of HIV
3. Prevent Primary Infections
4. Protect and support children affected by HIV and AIDS
East Asia and Pacific Regional Partnership Forum on Children and HIV, 2008
Unite against AIDS
• The Malaysian Launch