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Protecting children against AIDS

Dec 03, 2008

UNICEF's Children and AIDS: Third Stocktaking Report, 2008 examines emerging evidence and current practices on child protection. The report advocates increased access to early HIV testing for mothers and newborns and making prevention programmes more relevant to the needs of young and adolescents.

Children and AIDS: Third Stocktaking Report

Publisher: UNICEF, December 2008

Released on December 1, World AIDS Day, the report says that early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve the prospects for survival of newborn babies exposed to HIV.

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It focuses on the needs of children in four key areas, known as the “Four Ps”: preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, providing paediatric treatment for children infected with the virus, preventing new infections among adolescents and young people, and protecting and supporting children affected by HIV and AIDS.

The report also recommends increased access to tests assessing immune functions of HIV-positive mothers to determine their stage of HIV disease and provide a basis for decisions about appropriate treatment that addresses their own health needs and reduces the chance of the virus being passed to their offspring.

Addressing prevention in young people and adolescents is also a key section of the report, which notes that school-based programmes can be a crucial avenue for reaching them with gender-sensitive information and life-skills.

In the South Asian countries of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka – where the risk of HIV infection in the general population is low – national strategic plans on HIV and AIDS have been adjusted to focus on prevention for adolescents who are most at risk.

The report also outlines following solutions to ensure that health care is delivered to mothers and to their children:

  • Scale up programmes that provide early diagnosis of infants exposed to HIV and treatment of infected children
  • Expand access to antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women in need of treatment
  • Integrate HIV and AIDS services with primary-health-care programmes
  • Accelerate efforts to support mothers on optimal and safe infant and young child feeding practices
  • Make prevention programmes more relevant to the needs of adolescents and young people
  • Prioritise the collection and disaggregation of high-quality data
  • Invest in the social sector to improve protection of the most vulnerable children
  • Combine prevention strategies for a more effective response
    Understand and address the greater vulnerability of girls
Source : UNICEF
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