More Than 18M Children in Africa Will Have Lost One or Both Parents to AIDS-Related Illnesses by 2010, UNICEF Says
More than 18 million children in Africa will have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses by the end of 2010 without increased action to control the spread of the pandemic among young people on the continent, according to a UNICEF report released after a three-day HIV/AIDS conference in Dakar, Senegal, Reuters reports. "The number of orphans will continue to rise for at least the next decade, and progress in education, health and development will remain a distant dream," Esther Guluma, head of UNICEF in West and Central Africa, said. She added that even if new adult infections peaked today, the number of AIDS orphans would still continue to increase because an HIV-positive person often continues to live up to 10 years after the virus is transmitted. The impact of HIV/AIDS therefore would increase "exponentially" in subsequent years, hampering development efforts as orphans miss out on school and health care, according to Reuters. In addition, UNICEF estimates that in West Africa -- where 680,000 children ages 14 and younger are living with HIV/AIDS -- 1% of HIV-positive children and pregnant women receive antiretroviral treatment, far below the 2010 goal of 80%, Reuters reports. However, Eric Mercier, adviser on HIV/AIDS for UNICEF in West and Central Africa, said lobbying is proving successful in getting antiretroviral prices reduced and convincing governments to allocate more resources to assist children and pregnant women (Tattersall, Reuters, 10/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.