Vietnam Hosts East Asia and Pacific Conference To Focus on Children, HIV/AIDS
Hundreds of health experts -- including delegates from 19 countries and about 30 international agencies -- gathered on Wednesday in Hanoi, Vietnam, for an East Asia and Pacific conference to discuss new approaches and efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS among children in the region, Xhinua/People's Daily reports (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/22). According to UNAIDS figures from 2004, an estimated 1.5 million children in the Asia-Pacific region have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related complications and an additional 121,000 children are HIV-positive. About 35,000 children in the region are in need of antiretroviral treatment (Mason, AP/China Post, 3/22). The three-day conference -- which was organized by the Vietnamese Commission for Population, Family and Children, Family Health International, Save the Children, UNAIDS, UNICEF, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the World Health Organization -- is the first and largest of its kind in the region. Delegates plan to discuss HIV/AIDS support planning specific to each country in the region; how to boost access to prevention, care, treatment and support for children; how to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission; and how to establish a support group for children living with HIV or who have lost parents to AIDS-related complications (Xinhua/People's Daily, 3/22). Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who opened the ceremony, said, "We wish to see more collective and effective actions so that our children can live a better life," adding, "Children are the world's future and we believe this is in the best interest of progressive and sustainable development." The Hanoi conference aims to ensure that the upcoming U.N. Special Session on HIV/AIDS will include discussion on Asia-Pacific children (Agence France Presse , 3/21).
Agence France Presse Profiles Vietnam HIV/AIDS Orphanage
Agence France Presse on Tuesday profiled the Centre for Social Protection No. 2, an orphanage inside a state-run rehabilitation center for injection drug users (Agence France Presse , 3/21). In Vietnam, about 8,500 children ages 15 and younger are living with HIV/AIDS, and about 22,000 children have been orphaned by the disease (VNA/Thanh Nien Daily, 3/22). The orphanage was established in 2002 by child advocate Nguyen Thi Phuong and currently has 16 staff members, 14 of whom are rehabilitated drug users who are living with HIV/AIDS. In the last three years, the orphanage has received 42 orphans. Nine of the children were adopted after they tested negative for HIV after 18 months and 10 have died from AIDS-related complications. According to Agence France Presse, Vietnam's government gives the orphanage about $17 monthly per child. "We always need lots of drugs for the kids but unfortunately, we never have enough," Phuong said, adding, "Ensuring nutrition for them is a major problem ... We need significant change in the way the medical system is handling children with HIV. We need many, many more skillful and trained doctors" (Agence France Presse, 3/21).