Caritas World AIDS Day message on right to health for mothers and children
30 November 2011
On World AIDS Day 2011, Caritas Internationalis says it is unjust that more than 800 children are dying each day of AIDS-related diseases. Such deaths continue to occur because these children have no access to early diagnosis of HIV or to child-friendly medicines to treat infection with this virus. By the end of 2010, experts estimated that only 21% of children living with HIV had access to the medicines they desperately need in order to stay alive beyond their second birthday. [Download Caritas statement in pdf]
The world must strive towards elimination of new HIV infections among babies and keep mothers and children living with HIV alive.
Citing reports released by UNAIDS in November 2011, Rev. Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS for Caritas Internationalis, says, “1000 children in poor countries still are being born daily with HIV. Both HIV and TB are diseases that are almost entirely preventable. By the end of 2010, only 48% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to anti-retroviral treatment to keep themselves healthy and to prevent the spread of HIV to their babies.”
Despite numerous governmental declarations and commitments in response to HIV and AIDS, pregnant women and children living with HIV and HIV/TB co-infection are still left behind. Caritas insists that all children and women have the right to timely diagnosis and should be able to gain access to appropriate treatment and care. Pressure on governments and pharmaceutical companies is needed in order to make this possible.
Caritas launched the HAART for Children campaign in 2009 to urge the United Nations, governments and pharmaceutical companies to ensure the right to health of children living with HIV and TB and of HIV-positive mothers.
HAART stands for Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: the combination of medicines that help prolong the lives of both children and adults living with HIV. These medicines also help to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
The campaign calls on governments and pharmaceutical companies:
The Caritas Campaign has enlisted partners on all continents to raise public awareness about the plight of children living with HIV and TB infections, to demand effective action from governmental health officials, and to call on pharmaceutical companies to put the lives and future of children above the exclusive search for profit during this public health emergency.
Related Articles Ask an expert: Is there a right way to tell a child about their HIV status? The “Tide is Turning” for AIDS Compassion and Care for Nepal’s HIV patients Ten Things You Might Not Know about Tuberculosis and Children Reducing 9 out of 10 HIV infections in children HAART for Children campaign on HIV and AIDS