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Joint press release

UNICEF, UNAIDS applaud milestone in coordinated global response to children orphaned due to AIDS

Major international partners agree to strategic framework for the protection, care and support of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS

GENEVA, 21 October 2003 – A consensus agreement on how to significantly scale up the global response to the millions of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS marks critical progress, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy and UNAIDS Chief Peter Piot said today.

The UN agency heads were speaking at a high-level meeting involving key international partners working to address the complex and far-reaching impacts HIV/AIDS is having on millions of children and adolescents orphaned by the disease. Eight out of ten live in sub-Saharan Africa, adding to the millions of children orphaned due to conflicts and other causes. Donors, UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations participated in the two-day talks.

By 2001, 14 million children had lost one or both parents to AIDS, and many millions more were affected. Risk factors such as missed opportunities for education, ill health and abuse and exploitation threaten their most fundamental rights and keep them enmeshed in poverty. The pandemic is deepening poverty in entire communities and societies, with children often being the first to feel the brunt of the deprivation.

“The crisis of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS is massive, growing and long-term. But two-thirds of countries hard-hit by the disease do not have strategies to ensure the children affected grow up with even the bare minimum of protection and care,” Bellamy said.

Partners expect to discuss new costing estimates for the orphan response. According to UNAIDS, about US$1 billion is required annually to strengthen community-based care of orphans and ensure that they stay in school.

“The number of children orphaned by AIDS is projected to rise to at least 25 million by 2010,” said Dr Piot. “Yet we know how to prevent this and we know how much it will cost. The challenge now is for countries to prioritise the implementation of strategies that keep parents alive, protect children from violence and exploitation, ensure their good health, and keep them in school,” he said.

The strategic framework agreed to by all partners focuses on providing direct support to families and communities, ensuring that children orphaned or affected by AIDS have equal access to essential services, particularly schooling, and to ensure that they live and grow up in protective environments.

"Community groups, particularly religious organisations have been at the heart of the on-the-ground response to date,” said James Cairns of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. “The framework recognizes and supports the contributions of people of faith in affected communities working across religious boundaries. It should help us work more closely with other key actors in partnership for the ultimate benefit of these children.”

Children Orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa

  • More than 11 million children under the age of 15 in sub-Saharan Africa have lost at
    least one parent to HIV/AIDS; 34 million children have been orphaned overall.
  • More than half of those orphaned by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa are between the
    ages of 10 and 15.
  • Eighty percent of all the world’s children orphaned by HIV/AIDS reside in sub-Saharan
  • The orphan crisis in sub-Saharan Africa will worsen dramatically in the coming years. By
    2010, there will be approximately 20 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have lost
    at least one parent to HIV/AIDS.
  • If not for HIV/AIDS, the number of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa would be decreasing.
  •  The percentage of the region’s orphans whose parents died from HIV/AIDS has grown
    from 3.5 percent in 1990 to 32 percent in 2001.
  • By 2010, about half of all the orphans in sub-Saharan Africa will have become orphans
    because of HIV/AIDS.
  • No other region has been as hard hit by HIV/AIDS as sub-Saharan Africa, which is home
    to nearly three-quarters of the worldwide population of people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • At the end of 2002, there were more then 29 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living
    with HIV/AIDS. Nearly 10 million of them were young people between the ages of 15 and
    24. Almost three million of them were children under the age of 15.
  • HIV/AIDS killed about 2 million adults in sub-Saharan Africa in 2002.

* * * *

For more information, please contact Anne Winter, UNAIDS, Geneva, (+41 22) 791 4577, Dominique De Santis, UNAIDS, Geneva, (+41 22) 791 4509,  Damien Personnaz, UNICEF, Geneva, (+41 22) 909 5716, Liza Barrie, UNICEF, New York, (1-212) 326-7593 or Marixie Mercado, UNICEF, New York, (1-212) 326-7133 . You may also visit the UNAIDS website, www.unaids.org, for more information about the programme.





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