International Response To Fight HIV/AIDS Among Children ‘Tragically Insufficient’ But ‘Beginning To Change,’ U.N. Report Says
The world's response to fighting HIV/AIDS among vulnerable children remains "tragically insufficient," but some countries are making progress in providing treatment for HIV-positive children and preventing transmission of the virus, according to a report released Tuesday by UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, the New York Times reports (Altman, New York Times, 1/17). The report, released on the first anniversary of the "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" program, found 15.2 million children under age 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related complications (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/16). The campaign -- which is a partnership between UNICEF, UNAIDS, and other organizations and agencies -- aims to reduce the incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission, curb the spread of the virus among young people, and provide protection as well as emotional and financial support to children who have lost parents to AIDS-related illnesses (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/10/05). The report says that 2.3 million children younger than age 15 were living with HIV in 2005 and that 10% of the 780,000 children in need of antiretroviral drugs had access to them during the same time period. About one-third of HIV-positive infants who do not have access to treatment die from AIDS-related complications in their first year, and half of them die from AIDS-related complications by age two, the report found. These statistics indicate that about 380,000 children died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, according to UNICEF. The report identifies seven countries -- Botswana, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Namibia, Rwanda and Thailand -- that provided antiretrovirals to at least 20% of children in need of the drugs. The lack of access to prevention and treatment interventions has left about 15.2 million children orphaned, and the number is expected to increase to 20 million by 2010, according to the report. About 9% of HIV-positive pregnant women living in low- and middle-income countries in 2005 received antiretrovirals that could prevent MTC HIV transmission, up from 3% in 2003, the report found. About 10% of pregnant women living in sub-Saharan African capital cities are HIV-positive, according to the report. The majority of pregnant women in Africa do not have access to drugs aimed at preventing MTC HIV transmission, meaning that about one-third of their infants will become HIV-positive at or shortly after birth, according to UNICEF (New York Times, 1/17). The report also found that the most successful results occurred in countries that instituted a decentralized approach to HIV/AIDS service and training, demonstrated a political commitment to fighting the disease, and incorporated prevention and treatment to entire families (Leopold, Reuters, 1/16).
"Over the past year, there has been a broad, growing recognition of the need to intensify and accelerate action towards universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support" for HIV/AIDS, the report says. It calls on governments to provide at least 10% of their HIV/AIDS funding for children and adolescents. According to the report, about $30 billion is required to address the prevention strategy set out by the Unite for Children campaign, which aims to provide services to 80% of HIV-positive mothers by 2010, provide antiretroviral or antibiotic treatment to 80% of children who need it, and reduce the number of HIV-positive young people by 25% within three years (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/16).
The report is available online. Note: Adobe Acrobat is needed to view the report.