UN, NGOs Say China Must Do More to Help Children Affected by HIV/AIDS
July 22, 2005
On Wednesday, UN and other experts urged China's government to take action to help children with HIV/AIDS. "There's a need for urgency. We cannot spend years and years developing new policies, interventions, and programs ...," said Peter McDermott, chief of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS unit, speaking at a UNICEF-sponsored seminar, Caring for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS, in Beijing.
Figures from 2001 estimated 76,000 children in China are HIV/AIDS orphans -- with at least one parent dying -- but the figure is believed to be inaccurate. Experts said it is important to find out how many children, many of whom are scattered throughout the countryside in "AIDS villages," are affected.
"Unless you know how many children are sick, orphaned, and being born to HIV-infected mothers, our response will be lacking," McDermott said, citing the need for "a much better subnational level of analysis."
Doctor Gui Xien, who helps AIDS patients who contracted HIV through blood selling, said he believes most affected children have not been found. Gui noted many children might not know they have the virus and need medical care.
China provides free tuition and medicine to children and their families, but Gui said that many children have been turned away from schools and even orphanages because of discrimination. Still others have had to quit school and take jobs to support their families after parents die.
HIV/AIDS touches every aspect of children's lives, Christian Voumard, UNICEF's China representative, told the seminar. "The emotional toll alone can be devastating as children suffer from isolation, loss of self-esteem, and depression," Voumard said.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.