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Facts on Children


HIV and AIDS and children

In 2005 UNICEF and partners launched the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign to put children on the global AIDS agenda. HIV and AIDS and their impact on children continue to remain at the core of UNICEF’s work. For too long, children have been the missing face in the HIV and AIDS response and their needs have often been overlooked. Yet, they are the ones who offer the greatest hope for defeating the epidemic.

HIV and AIDS key data:

1. Global and regional estimates

In 2007:

• An estimated 33.2 million people worldwide were living with HIV
• Approximately 2.1 million children under 15 were living with HIV
• An estimated 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV
• An estimated 420,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV
• An estimated 2.1 million people died of AIDS-related causes 
• An estimated 290,000 children under 15 died of AIDS-related causes

UNAIDS regional estimates for children under 14 living with HIV (2005):
• Sub-Saharan Africa:  Two million
• South and South-East Asia: 170,000
• East Asia: 6,400
• Oceania (Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea): 3,000
• Latin America: 32,000
• Caribbean: 22,000
• Middle East and North Africa: 31,000
• Eastern Europe and Central Asia: 6,900
• Western and Central Europe: 4,000
• North America: 11,000

2. The Four Ps

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)
• Every day, almost 1,500 children worldwide become infected with HIV – the vast majority of them newborns infected through mother-to-child transmission
• Only an estimated nine per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries received ARV prophylaxis for PMTCT in 2005 – an increase from three per cent in 2003
• Knowledge applied in high-income countries has already resulted in a steep drop in the rate of transmission to about two per cent.

Paediatric care and treatment:
• Only one in 10 children needing antiretroviral treatment receive it – the others face a bleak and short-lived future
• Of the 2.3 million children under 15 living with HIV, an estimated 780,000 were in need of antiretroviral treatment in 2005 
• An estimated four million children exposed to or infected with HIV were in need of cotrimoxazole, a readily-available and low-cost antibiotic. Cotrimoxazole prevents life-threatening infections in HIV-positive children and infants born to HIV-positive mothers. It can also delay the onset of AIDS and the need for ARV therapy.
• Evidence shows that in the absence of treatment, an estimated one third of infected infants die in their first year, and half die by their second birthday.

Primary prevention
• It is estimated that more than 10 million young people aged 15 to 24 are infected with HIV.
• Prevalence rates are highest in sub-Saharan Africa and higher among young women than young men in the region.
• In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in three young people have accurate knowledge about HIV that will help them to protect themselves from the virus.

Protection, care and support for children affected by AIDS
• According to estimates, 15.2 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. About 12 million of these are in sub-Saharan Africa.
• It is estimated that by 2010, more than 20 million children will have been orphaned by AIDS.
• A 2006 survey of NGO actions in 28 sub-Saharan countries found that between 3.3 million and five million orphans and vulnerable children were receiving services in the form of education, health care, food, economic or psychosocial support.

Updated: February 2008