“About a quarter of help provided worldwide for persons living with HIV infection is delivered by faith-based organisations“, said Msgr. Robert Vitillo. Last week, the leading AIDS-expert of Caritas Internationalis, delivered a speech to Austrian journalists and church representatives in the run-up to the 18th International AIDS Conference that will take place from July 18th to July 23rd in Vienna. The help provided includes medical care, nursing, information, HIV-tests, care for AIDS-orphans, psychological and spiritual support as well as prevention. Msgr. Vitillo expressed serious concern that faith-based aid programmes received only five percent of the Global Fund resources distributed worldwide while they deliver between 30% to 70% of health care in many developing countries. He also pointed out the precarious situation of HIV-positive children. In 2009, Caritas Internationalis initiated a campaign ‘HAART for Children’ in order to promote the development of additional “child friendly dosages and formulations of anti-retroviral medication for use with children living with this virus. Caritas Austria supports ‘HAART for Children’. Having access to life-prolonging and life-enhancing medication can make a “life or death” difference for more than 800,000 HIV-positive children under the age of 15. HIV is extremely aggressive for the small bodies of the children. Without this medication, one third of all HIV-positive children die before their first birthday, and half of them die before they are two years old. With most tests commonly used in developing countries, they cannot be diagnosed soon enough and there is a need for more suitable medications for such children. In high-income countries, fewer children are becoming infected since HIV-positive mothers have access to treatment that blocks the transmission of the virus from mother-to-child. Since HIV in children is most prevalent among those living in poor countries, many pharmaceutical companies consider it “unprofitable” to develop appropriate medicines for such children.
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