UN Declares: World's Response to Children With AIDS "Tragically Insufficient"

Marking the first anniversary of the "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" program, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization today declared that "the world's response to protect and support AIDS-affected children remains tragically insufficient."

The program aims to provide appropriate services to 80 percent of HIV-positive mothers by 2010, as well as antibiotic or antiretroviral treatment to 80 percent of children in need. It targets a 25 percent reduction in the prevalence of young people living with HIV within three years.

The UN agencies' new report said around 2.3 million children under age 15 are HIV-infected; 15.2 million children under 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS; and millions more remain vulnerable. However, there are indications that attitudes and policies are beginning to shift. "Over the past year, there has been a broad, growing recognition of the need to intensify and accelerate action towards universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support," the report said.

According to the agencies, an estimated $30 billion is needed to address the "four P's" of their strategy: preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission; providing pediatric treatment; preventing infection among adolescents and young people; and protecting and supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS.

The report called on more governments to follow the lead of the United States, Britain and Ireland, and to earmark at least 10 percent of their AIDS funding for children and young people.