UN report highlights struggle young children face combating AIDS

14:35, December 01, 2009      

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Efforts in the fight against AIDS are being made, but the young children affected by HIV and AIDS, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where their basic needs are not being met, the struggle remains very much there, according to report released here Monday by UN agencies.

On the eve of World AIDS day, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with UNAIDS, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), released the Children and AIDS Fourth Stocktaking Report 2009 which examined data on interventions that protect women and children from HIV and AIDS, particularly in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, in addition to what is lacking, and a guide for accelerated action.

"We really need to ensure that all efforts are sustained, scaled up and also in a time of economic crisis, it is really critical that financing is secure," UNAIDS Director for New York Bertil Linblad said at a press conference to launch the report at the UN headquarters in New York.

The report underscored that with the current economic crisis, households already vulnerable will continue to worsen, which in turn, will continue to affect a child's wellbeing.

"Sub-Saharan is still the region most affected and here also the region where 91 percent of all new infections among children occur," he said.

Nearly 75 percent of girls living in sub-Saharan Africa account for all infections in young people -- which remains the group that is most susceptible and disproportionately vulnerable to the infection.

Paediatric HIV care and treatment need to be a continuous aspect part of infant and child survival and health programs, where the report cites that many countries have made progress in early infant diagnosis of HIV, but the follow-up in care is what is lacking.

According to UNICEF, infant diagnosis in the first two months of a newborn's life and early initiation of anti-retroviral treatment (ARC) can substantially decrease child mortality, but globally, the report cited that only 15 percent of children born to HIV positive mothers are being tested within the first two months.

The report highlighted that "positive diagnosis of HIV on its own does not guarantee a child access to life-saving treatment," and strongly urged for a follow-up in services so that the investment of loss is not massive.

In addition, the report cited significant gains which included 45 percent of pregnant women living with HIV received anti-retroviral drugs in low-and middle-income countries in the prevention of the virus to newborns.

Source: Xinhua
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