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Forum aims to mobilise young activists in fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa

Dakar, 22 March 2004 –  HIV/AIDS is affecting Africa’s young people and children hardest, yet they will determine the future course of the epidemic, UNICEF Regional Director Rima Salah said at the opening on Monday of a pan-African youth forum focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

Hosted by the Government of Senegal, the week-long Forum aims to mobilise young, national-level activists in fighting HIV/AIDS across Africa. Forum participants include youth representatives from the seven largest youth movements across Africa, collectively called the “Big 7”.  The movements are present in all 51 African countries, and reach at least 20 million young people.

The forum – titled the Pan-African Youth Forum on HIV/AIDS: A Matter of Education - will look at the HIV/AIDS context in every African state; set up a joint national AIDS prevention action plan; and work to strengthen ties between Big 7 organisations and UN agencies.

Big 7 includes the World Organization of the Scouts Movement; the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts; the World Alliance of YMCA; World YWCA; the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; International Award Association; and the International Youth Foundation.

Facts and figures 

  • Each day, an estimated 1,600 chuldren are born with HIV; 1,500 of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Nine in every 10 newly-infected children live in sub-Saharan Africa, as do nearly eight out of every 10 women living with HIV/AIDS.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, more than two out of three newly-infected 15-24-year olds are female. For adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19, five or six girls are infected for every boy in worst-affected areas.
  • With 27 million people living with HIV/AIDS, only 2% of AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa receive antiretroviral treatment.
  • Eight out of every 10 children who have lost parents to AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa, and the number is expected to grow increase over the next two decades at least.

For more information on the Forum, please contact:
Kent Page, UNICEF regional communication officer, kpage@unicef.org
tel: (221) 869-5876; cell: (221) 545-8580

About UNICEF:  Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children in 158 countries through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water and sanitation.  UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination.  In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.  For more information about UNICEF or to make a donation, please visit www.unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4UNICEF.




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