International Women's Day: Stop 800 children dying daily from AIDS
06 March 2009
Caritas says that children have been the forgotten in global and national efforts to address HIV and AIDS.
Caritas is launching a new global campaign “HAART for Children: Greater Access to Pediatric HIV and TB testing and treatment”, urging governments and pharmaceutical companies to develop the HIV/AIDS and TB treatment that could save the lives of 800 children a day from AIDS and TB. HAART stands for Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART), the term given to treatment regimens to aggressively suppress viral replication and slow the progress of HIV disease.
Children in poor countries do not have access to child-friendly medicine that would allow them to live longer and healthier lives. Infants in poor countries are unable to get accurate testing until it is often too late. Most of the children who die every year would have not even contracted HIV if their mothers would have been treated.
Caritas is urging young people throughout the world to write to governments and pharmaceutical companies through resources available on its website.
Governments and pharmaceutical companies play a major role in children’s access to treatment. Caritas wants them to develop medicine that will treat HIV and TB in children, to scale up prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and eliminate the barriers that exclude women or children from diagnosis and treatment.
Caritas Internationalis Delegate at the UN in Geneva Francesca Merico said, “Without adequate treatment, as many as one third of children born with HIV will die before their first birthday, and half of them will die before they are two years old.
“Pediatric anti-retroviral treatment for HIV and HIV/TB co-infection in children is not considered to be profitable as the market for pediatric anti-retroviral care exists mainly in poor countries. How can we allow profits to be given priority over people? We want political lead¬ers to tell the children of the world how they have promoted and respected the child’s right to health.
“We need to keep the pressure up so that all HIV-positive pregnant women can be treated for their own health and to avoid the transmission of HIV to their babies; so that chil¬dren can be tested timely for HIV; and so that all children living with HIV can access the life-saving treatment they deserve.”
The Convention on the Rights of the Child will mark its 20th anniversary on 20 November. It recognizes the right of children to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health and access to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health.
Caritas is urging political leaders to use this special occasion to tell the children of the world how they have promoted and respected the child’s right to health by making HIV diagnostic tools and treatment available to all.
Contact Patrick Nicholson on 0039 334 359 0700 or firstname.lastname@example.org