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T.S. Betancourt et al.

Downloaded By: [Betancourt, Theresa Stichick] At: 12:58 1 June 2010

Introduction: Children and HIV/AIDS The AIDS pandemic has dramatically altered the lives of children, families, and communities around the world. Of particular concern is the pandemic’s effect on children. Of the estimated 2.8 million people who died from AIDS in 2005, around half a million were children under the age of 15 (UNAIDS, 2005). In many parts of the globe, young people, particularly young women are at great risk of contracting the virus as soon as they become sexually active. Recent estimates indicate that half of all new HIV infections – approximately 7000 every day – are among young people between the ages of 15 to 24 (UNAIDS, UNICEF, & USAID, 2004). Without question, promoting the health and development of children requires more than just keeping them alive. Unfortunately, only a fraction of the children estimated to be made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS actually received necessary services. To date, access to treatments that can prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children at birth remains far from reach in many low income countries (Perez et al., 2004). Access to pediatric antiretroviral treatment is less robust in most settings in which adults receive care (UNICEF, 2006a, 2006b). Beyond immediate medical care, systems of social protection and social welfare to appropriately support children orphaned or made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS in their family remain weak or nonexistent in many low income countries (UNAIDS et al., 2004). Current progress in reducing vertical transmission of HIV to children globally is abysmal (DeGennaro and Zeitz, 2009). The HIV/AIDS pandemic has brought a new sense of urgency to the human security debate. Current estimates indicate that the pandemic’s effect on children is profound and on a dangerous trend. UNICEF currently estimates that more than 15 million children have been orphaned by the pandemic (80% of these in sub-Saharan Africa), a growing number expected to swell to over 25 million by 2010 (UNAIDS et al., 2004). The situation of orphans is only one part of the problem. An growing number of children are living with HIV infected parents and ill parents. These young people face numerous risks such as dropping out of school in order to provide care for sick relatives, as well as the psychological burden associated with witnessing the illness of a caregiver and in the worse instances, coping with death. Despite the considerable need for support and services, funding for HIV/AIDS affected children falls dramatically short. Certainly the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as well as the Global Fund have made significant contributions to the picture of AIDS globally. Additionally, several large organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton foundation, and the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation all have advanced treatment services available for HIV/AIDS infected children. Coalitions such as CCABA have provided tremendous advocacy on the issue, resulting in growing attention to the need to attend to children and families at the heart of the pandemic (Richter, 2008). Nonetheless, access to treatment remains far lower for children compared to adults in low resource settings (UNICEF, 2006a, 2006b). Despite availability of effective regimens and strategies to prevent vertical transmission of HIV to children, a majority of the pregnant women in resourcelimited settings who are HIV-positive (approximately two-thirds) do not have access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services. In addition, the PMTCT services that are provided tend to employ single-dose antiretrovirals to combat MTCT, despite consensus among organizations like

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Children affected by HIV/AIDS: SAFE, a model ...  

Children affected by HIV/AIDS: SAFE, a model for promoting their security, health, and development Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Mary K.S...

Children affected by HIV/AIDS: SAFE, a model ...  

Children affected by HIV/AIDS: SAFE, a model for promoting their security, health, and development Authors: Theresa S. Betancourt, Mary K.S...

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