Egypt Thursday launched a five-year campaign to help the Egyptian children fight against the HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C diseases.
Under the theme of uniting for children against AIDS and hepatitis C, the campaign was cosponsored by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and U.S. Coca-Cola North and West Africa.
Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hatem el-Gabali told the launching ceremony in a pre-recorded speech that raising awareness among the public on means how the HIV virus transits is the most important thing for Egypt.
He said that his ministry has taken many measures to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic including setting up a dedicated hot line, establishing special medical care units and spreading common knowledge on HIV/AIDS through all-level governments in the country.
As for hepatitis C, Gabali said about eight percent of Egypt's total population was estimated to have infected with the virus, which makes Egypt one of the worst-hit nations in the world by the hepatitis C disease.
For her part, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said that the time had come to help children confront with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world, a child dies because of AIDS. And every day, there are nearly 2,000 new infections among children under 15," said Salah.
She explained that the Egyptian campaign would aim to reduce the number of young people living with HIV/AIDS, prevent mother-to- child transmission of HIV virus and extend provision of pediatric AIDS treatment to children needing it.
According to a press release issued by the organizers, HIV prevalence remains low in Egypt's general population, which amounted to some 74 million by the end of 2005.
However, the number of newly-reported HIV cases in Egypt is on the rise, they said.
Since 1986 when Egypt reported the first case of HIV/AIDS, a cumulative number of 2,115 has been reported to the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population.
But the World Health Organization estimates that some 12,000 people are living with the HIV virus in Egypt.