Our subject this week is children and AIDS.
The United Nations
Children's Fund, UNICEF, has just released a report on a campaign launched in
October of 2005. UNICEF, the U.N. AIDS program and other groups wanted to bring
greater attention to the needs of children affected by AIDS.
The report on the "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" campaign says
there are signs of progress.
One of the biggest problems is the spread of HIV from mothers to children.
Mother-to-child transmission was the main cause of the estimated half-million
new infections last year in children under the age of fifteen.
UNICEF reports that several countries in eastern and southern Africa have
made what it calls breakthroughs. It says they greatly increased the number of
mothers who receive antiretroviral drugs. These medicines can prevent
For example, the report says Namibia increased coverage from six percent of
mothers to 29 percent. That was between 2004 and 2005. And in South Africa,
it says, the number rose during that same period from twenty-two percent of
mothers to thirty percent.
However, the report says there are still far too many pregnant women infected
with HIV who do not get antiretroviral treatment. Only nine percent of them in
poor countries were getting the medicines in two thousand five.
UNICEF also reports gains in providing treatment to children who already have
HIV or AIDS. The agency says testing programs and health worker skills have
improved. Lower drug prices and simpler treatments have also helped in the care
of children with HIV/AIDS.
Several countries increased HIV treatment for children by combining it with
programs at treatment centers for adults. The report says the countries include
Botswana, India, Rwanda, South Africa and Thailand.
Still there is much more room for progress. UNICEF says just one in ten
infected children worldwide gets antiretroviral treatment. And only four percent
of children born to HIV-infected mothers receive drugs to prevent infections
that can be deadly.
The UNICEF report also discusses efforts to help the millions of children who
have lost parents to AIDS. It says more and more are getting educations, thanks
in part to the cancellation of school charges in several countries.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I'm