new report says the global response to HIV/AIDS has failed to meet the needs of
millions of children and their families. It recommends new approaches to
simultaneously address HIV/AIDS, poverty, food insecurity and social inequity.
report is called Home Truths: Facing the Facts on Children, AIDS and Poverty.
It's a two-year study done by an independent alliance of researchers,
policymakers, activists and others called the Joint Learning Initiative on
Children and HIV/AIDS.
co-chair of the alliance is Jim Yong Kim, director of the FXB Center for Health
and Human Rights at Harvard University.
is a global report. But we focused primarily on the countries of sub-Saharan
Africa that are confronting a severe AIDS epidemic," he says.
report finds that families provide the best care for children. Yet despite
bearing up to 90 percent of the cost, they receive little or no financial
assistance from governments.
also finds that extreme poverty is a barrier to the increase of AIDS services.
And while HIV infection rates are often highest among women and girls, not
enough is being done to address the social conditions and norms that make them
says that while AIDS treatment and prevention have "revolutionized" the
approach to health care in developing countries, a new direction is still needed.
re-direction of the AIDS response to serve families and communities, especially
in those communities that are hardest hit, can be the motive for strengthening
health services and social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable,
especially the children and their families," he says.
two-year study looked closely at HIV infection rates among children.
"So, what did we find when we looked at how children
are faring in this epidemic? Statistics show that, one, over 90 percent of the
more than two million children living with HIV are infected before or during
birth. Yet, only one in three pregnant women with HIV in low and middle-income
countries gets the treatment they need to help prevent infection of their
babies. And still, only a very small proportion of children living with HIV
receive the life-saving anti-retroviral treatments," he says.
more, fewer than 10 percent of children born to HIV-positive women are tested
for the AIDS virus before they're two months old.
report also finds that most children labeled AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa
actually have a surviving parent or other family member willing to care for
them. But those potential caregivers often lack the basic resources to give the
children what they need.
says, "Resources, though, are currently not reaching the families that need
them. And in the most severely affected region families and communities pay 90
percent of the financial cost of caring for children affected by the epidemic
with little or no assistance from government."
poverty is blamed for blocking their access to AIDS-related programs, with over
60 percent of children in sub-Saharan Africa living in poverty.
says, "In countries in which HIV is endemic, the disease impoverishes entire
communities. When we make relief too narrowly AIDS specific, we miss a large
portion of children impoverished by the epidemic. In fact, only providing benefits
for people living with HIV or with family members, who are living with or die
from HIV, is probably counterproductive. It can create stigmatization and abuse
for those in need of help."
says family care is always preferable to institutional care, such as
The Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS
recommends greater financial support for children and their families; a greater
focus on children's needs, not their HIV status; ensuring the physical safety
of girls and women at school, on public transport and places of recreation; and
addressing behavior and attitudes that encourage sexual abuse.