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Children must be at the center of the Global AIDS Response to Achieve an AIDS-Free Generation, UNICEF declares at the close of High-Level Meeting on AIDS


NEW YORK, - In the days leading up to and during the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS (8-10 June), UNICEF engaged global leaders, national decision-makers, and civil society on multiple fronts, following through on commitments for children, young people and mothers in the global AIDS response.

At a side event for high level delegates co-hosted by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the governments of Australia and Botswana during the High-Level Meeting, UNICEF announced the renewal of the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign, with its global challenge to help eliminate new paediatric HIV infections and achieve a 30 per cent decrease in new infections amongst young people.

“In all our efforts, we must target the most vulnerable children and mothers. For life saving treatments only save lives if they are affordable, available and reach those in greatest need,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, at the June 9 event. “The global effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation can only succeed if we match our action to our words and our commitments.”

Earlier that day, UNICEF together with UNAIDS, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other partners of the Global Task Team launched “Countdown to Zero,” a global plan to reduce by 2015 the number of new HIV infections among children by 90 per cent, and to cut in half the number of mothers who die from AIDS-related causes.

UNICEF welcomed the passing of a UN Security Council resolution on June 7, 2011, which recognizes that the devastating effects of HIV are compounded in conflict and post-conflict settings. The heightened incidence of sexual violence, displacement and reduced access to HIV services that occur in conditions of violence and instability exacerbate the spread of HIV. UNICEF also welcomed the U.N. General Assembly’s June 10 adoption of ambitious new targets to defeat AIDS. Included among the declaration’s targets are ensuring that no children are born with HIV by 2015, as well as increasing access to prevention, treatment and protection services.

Preceding the High Level Meeting on AIDS, UNICEF presented Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV from early adolescence to young adulthood, a global report which highlights the risks adolescents face as they transition to adulthood and presents for the first time data on HIV infections among young adolescents.

Launched June 1 in Johannesburg jointly with UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, ILO, WHO and The World Bank, the report identifies factors that elevate the risk of infection among adolescents and young people – especially girls and women – as well as opportunities to strengthen prevention services and challenge harmful social practices.

“Ten years ago, world leaders made a promise to reduce the prevalence of HIV in young people globally by 25 per cent by 2010 – a goal which, in spite of progress, we did not reach,” said Mr. Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “Yet achieving a generation of children born free of HIV is within our grasp. To achieve this we must accelerate efforts to provide a package of proven interventions to reach young people at the right moment in their lives.”

While HIV prevalence has declined globally by about 12% among young people over the past decade, an estimated 2500 are newly infected with HIV every day, according to Opportunity in Crisis. People aged 15-24 accounted for 41 per cent of new infections among adults over the age of 15 in 2009. And among the 10 to 19 year age group, new data shows, an estimated 2 million adolescents (1.8 million to 2.4 million) are living with HIV. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, most are women, and most are unaware of their status.

In the lead up to the High Level Meeting, UNICEF hosted this year’s Global Partners Forum on children affected by AIDS together with PEPFAR and UNAIDS. This year’s forum, held in New York, brought together 100 high level representatives from governments, civil society, donors, international organisations and academic institutions to focus on maximizing the impact of programmes that provide care, protection and support for children affected by HIV and AIDS.

While global efforts to improve the lives of children affected by HIV and AIDS are increasing, they still fall short of the growing needs of millions. At the end of 2010, an estimated 16.6 million children lost one or both parents to AIDS – 14.9 million of these in sub-Saharan Africa. Many HIV-affected children continue to face enormous challenges, including the burden of care for sick relatives, trauma from the loss of parents, and the risk of early sexual debut and abuse, which in turn can make children – particularly girls – more susceptible to HIV infection, and economic distress due to high health costs and declining incomes. The UNICEF Report Evidence to Impact outlines best practices and lessons learnt to address these issues.

To help raise awareness about the devastating impact of HIV on children and the need to keep them at the center of global strategies on HIV prevention, protection and treatment, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lang Lang will take to the streets of New York this month. Lang Lang’s image and message is expected to appear around town from taxis to Times Square.

“Much more must be done to help the most vulnerable children – especially those who have lost a parent, a teacher, a health worker or another loved one to AIDS ,” said Lang Lang, explaining his decision to launch the recent awareness campaign. “This is a global problem that needs a global response. We all have a role to play, and we must act with urgency to help ensure that the lives of children and their families can be saved and improved.”


Background on Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS:
Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS is a call to action around the impact of HIV and AIDS on children. 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.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:


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