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World must do more to provide drugs for children with AIDS

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) May 26, 2006
Leading child advocacy groups made an urgent appeal here Friday for world action to provide drugs and treatment to the millions of overlooked children afflicted with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

In a report titled "Saving Lives" Children's right to HIV and AIDS treatment", the seven groups making up the Global Movement for Children (GMC) lamented the fact that "alarmingly few drugs are available that are affordable and able to be administered" to HIV-positive children.

"The lack of treatment amounts to a death sentence for millions of children," said MDC head Dean Hirsch. "Without treatment, most children with HIV will die before their fifth birthday."

"Children are the missing face of HIV and AIDS," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman. She called for closer partnerships among governments, donors, the private sector and international agencies to ensure drugs and treatment are available for those children.

Some 90 percent of HIV-positive children are infected by a failure to prevent mother-to-child transmission, the GMC report said, adding that less than 10 percent of HIV-infected pregnant women receive drug therapies to prevent transmission of the virus to their infants.

It said that as of last June, an estimated four million children were in need of cotrimoxazole, a readily available antibiotic costing a mere .03 dollar per day per child that can prevent life-threatening infections in HIV-infected kids.

The MDC -- which includes UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision and Plan International -- proposed four key recommendations:

- Develop and make available simple and affordable diagnostic tests.

- Boost research and development for child specific treatment.

- Improve health care systems of developing countries to improve drug delivery systems.

- Establish child-specific treatment targets.

"We know how to dramatically reduce transmission of HIV from mother to child at a modest cost," said Charles MacCormack, president of Save the Children USA.

But he said more resources were needed to make these programs more available and accessible to women in need.

Related Links

UN conference to assess HIV-AIDS programs worldwide
United Nations (AFP) May 29, 2006
A United Nations conference opening this week will assess AIDS and HIV programs on the world level, 25 years after the scourge appeared and went on to take 25 million lives.

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