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One Child Dies Because Of Aids Each Minute

1 Child Dies Because Of Aids Each Minute, Unicef Says

New York, Oct 24 2005

Each minute of every day a child somewhere in the world dies because of AIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said today on the eve of launching a major push to address the plight of the disease's youngest victims.

"For young people in the most affected countries, where life-expectancy has plummeted from the mid 60's to the low 30's, turning 18 can mean reaching middle age," UNICEF chief Ann Veneman told a press briefing in New York.

"An estimated 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, but only a fraction of the children and parents who need help are getting it," she added.

Outlining the new initiative, the Chief of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS Section, Peter McDermott, said it aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission, provide pediatric treatment, stem new HIV/AIDS infections, and help orphans affected by the virus.

Specifically the campaign seeks to increase services to women in need to 80 per cent by 2010 from the 10 per cent currently served. It also hopes to cut in half the 500,000 children who die from the virus before the age of 1, out of the 600,000 that are born positive.

"With simple Co-trimoxazole for about $10 a year, we can improve their chances of living beyond one year of age by 15 per cent, and with antiretrovirals, we can improve their life expectancy after their first birthday," Mr. McDermott said.

Through prevention, the programme hopes to reduce by 25 per cent the number of children aged 4 to 15 who are infected annually by the virus. Altogether, the programme hopes to reach 80 per cent of the children in need in 5 years, he added.

But he warned that there remains a "massive funding gap" between what has been committed to fight the virus among children. and what is needed.

Also addressing the press briefing was 20-year old Kerrel McKay of Jamaica, who lost her father to AIDS five years ago. When he was sick, she was his primary care-taker. "Children will be given a mor support to go on with their lives," she said of the initiative. "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" will be kicked off on Tuesday at UN Headquarters where Ms. Venemen will be joined by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeanette Kagame and the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Dr. Peter Piot.

ENDS


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