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International News
China Should Provide Country's 140,000 AIDS Orphans With HIV/AIDS Information, Financial Assistance, UNICEF Says

July 10, 2007

There are an estimated 140,000 children in China who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses, according to figures released Sunday by UNICEF China, the South China Morning Post reports. The organization also called on China to increase financial assistance provided to AIDS orphans in the country, according to the Morning Post. Ken Legins, chief of HIV/AIDS for UNICEF China, said the figures are unofficial and were gathered with the help of institutions in the country. Official figures provided by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005 showed that 76,000 children in China had lost at least one parent to AIDS-related illnesses and that the number was expected to rise to 260,000 by 2010. Zhang Lei, a consultant for UNICEF, said there are about 500,000 children in China who have been orphaned by the disease, are HIV-positive or are living in households with at least one HIV-positive parent.

Official government figures show that about 8,000 AIDS orphans in China receive some type of government assistance. Legins called on the government to provide information to children, such as educating them about HIV/AIDS and prevention methods. The agency also is encouraging communities to care for children affected by AIDS rather than placing them in orphanages. It is important to "go talk to the kids and try to figure out how you need to provide the services, skills and information to them," Legins said. He said one of the primary reasons communities refuse to care for children orphaned by AIDS is because "they don't have the correct information about how [HIV] is transmitted," adding, "You need to educate the community." According to Chung To -- founder of Hong Kong's Chi Heng Foundation, which has assisted children affected by HIV/AIDS in several mainland provinces -- the central Chinese government is "more supportive" of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, but "local governments are not very consistent" (Savadove, South China Morning Post, 7/9).

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