United Kingdom Donates $88M to UNICEF for AIDS Orphans Assistance
The British government on Thursday said that it will donate approximately $88 million over three years to UNICEF to assist children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Most of the money will be spent in sub-Saharan Africa, Gareth Thomas, U.K. international development minister, said at a news conference at the World Bank. Some of the money also will be spent in Asia, where trends indicate there is a "growing AIDS problem," UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy said, according to the AP/Post-Intelligencer (Fredrix, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 12/16). "This generous contribution ... will help UNICEF respond even more effectively to the enormous needs of children whose lives have been so cruelly disrupted by the global AIDS emergency," Bellamy said in a statement, adding, "We intend to dramatically extend our programs designed to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children, as well as programs to keep mothers alive and to prevent new infections. Complementing these efforts, we will initiate research to ensure pediatric formulations of antiretroviral drugs are available for all children who need them" (UNICEF release, 12/16).
The grant is part of a three-year, $300 million British government program to support children affected by HIV/AIDS. The program also includes about $4.8 million for a five-year clinical trial of pediatric antiretroviral drug regimens, Thomas said. "The international community, working with developing countries, needs to scale up the response, not only with AIDS but with the developing orphan crisis," he said (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 12/16). Bellamy said that Britain's donation sends "a powerful message of support for UNICEF's mandate to respond to children affected by HIV/AIDS." She added, "As the United Kingdom takes up the presidencies of the G8 and the European Union, we particularly appreciate the strong leadership and commitment of the U.K. government to make fighting HIV/AIDS a major issue on their government's agenda" (UNICEF release, 12/16). According to UNICEF, more than 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses, and about two million children worldwide are HIV-positive, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 12/16).