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UN Helps Guinea-Bissau Combat Childhood HIV/AIDS

UN Helps Guinea-Bissau Combat Childhood HIV/AIDS

New York, Oct 26 2006 12:00PM

All children in Guinea-Bissau with HIV/AIDS will now have access to anti-retroviral medicines, thanks to a United Nations-backed treatment campaign in the small West African country where more than 1,500 children are infected each year.

“An estimated 6,000 Bissau-Guinean children affected by HIV/AIDS cannot be overlooked and immediate response must be given to their specific needs and to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS,” UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country Representative Jean Dricot said at yesterday’s launch of the alliance between UNICEF, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the Brazilian and Guinea-Bissau governments.

The so-called ‘Brazil + 7’ aims at guaranteeing universal access to prevention against HIV/AIDS and to integrated care and treatment for people living with AIDS.

A national policy for HIV/AIDS treatment, the training of medical personnel, and essential drugs are being made available to halt the annual infection of more than 1,500 children. Until now, less than one per cent of these children received treatment.

The first diagnosed case of AIDS in Guinea-Bissau, a nation of nearly 1.5 million people, was reported in 1985. Currently there are an estimated 53,000 HIV-infected adults. During the period 2003-2005, 10 out of 384 children tested were positive, 2.6 per cent.

It is estimated that 15,000 young people are living with HIV. In 2005 an overall HIV prevalence of 7.3 per cent was registered among pregnant women admitted at the national hospital in the capital city, Bissau, compared to 4 per cent in 2000.


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