UN: More than 16 million children lost parents to AIDS
Jun 3, 2011, 14:01 GMT
New York - An estimated 16.6 million children worldwide lost one or both parents to AIDS in 2010 despite progress made in the global anti-AIDS campaign, the UN Children's Fund said in a study released Friday.
Most of those children - 14.9 million - were from sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF revealed at an event in New York hosted jointly with the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and UN-AIDS, the UN organization dealing with the epidemic.
Children affected with HIV, the AIDS virus, have had to deal with enormous challenges of caring for sick relatives, the trauma from loss of parents, economic and health problems.
The poorest households are also the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and the disease can have heavy economic impacts on those households, UNICEF said.
'These children have already experienced the tragedy of losing a parent or a loved one to AIDS - only to be subjected to stigma, discrimination and exclusion from school and social services,' said UNICEF Director Anthony Lake in a prepared statement.
'To help these children reach their full potential, we urgently need to invest in national social protection programmes that fight poverty and stigma, and which address the special needs of HIV-affected families.'
The UN General Assembly will hold June 8-10 an international conference to assess progress in fighting AIDS to be attended by heads of government and state. The UN has called for halting the spread of AIDS by 2015.
The UN conference next week will mark AIDS at 30, a disease that continues to infect and kill people. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people in the past three decades.
An estimated 7,000 people, including 1,000 children, become infected with HIV every day, the UN said.
UNICEF called for discussion on lessons learned at country level to support HIV affected children and their families at next week's conference.
Other measures it is seeking include protection for children against marginalization and discrimination, increase of children's access to HIV prevention, treatment and health care.
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