AIDS leaves 9 mln African children without mothers

Some 9 million children in Africa have lost their mother to AIDS, the charity Save the Children said Monday, calling on donors to sharply increase aid to meet their needs.

“Incredibly, the impact of HIV and AIDS on children is still being ignored,” Jasmine Whitbread of Save the Children said in a statement.

According to a charity report, a lack of testing facilities means that many mothers, especially in the poorest countries, do not know their HIV status until they become ill and are unable to fight off even the simplest infections.

“The AIDS pandemic robs millions of children of their childhoods as well as their mothers,” Whitbread said. “Children are caring for their mothers, missing school, and having to work because their mothers are too sick to look after them.”

The charity called for a focus on children orphaned by AIDS as well as sick parents, adding red tape was slowing aid flows.

“Donors must spend 12 percent of their AIDS funding on proper support for children,” it said, adding this would amount to $6.4 billion. It did not give any comparisons for the current amount of aid for children affected by AIDS.

The charity addressed its appeal to the G8 wealthy nations, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and the European Commission.

Sub-Saharan Africa has about 10 percent of the world’s population but 60 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDS.

More than 3 million Africans were infected with HIV in 2005, representing 64 percent of all new infections globally and more than in any previous year for the impoverished continent, according to UNAIDS, the lead U.N. agency against AIDS.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 4.6 percent of young women aged 15 to 24 are infected with HIV, compared to 1.7 percent of young men, according to U.N. data.

Save the Children said most of the 19.2 million women living with HIV around the globe were already mothers. “To truly make a difference we must also support children whose mothers are HIV positive,” the report said.

“In sub-Saharan Africa alone, more than 12 million children under the age of 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. By 2010, at current rates of HIV infection, this number is likely to increase to 18 million.”

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD