UNICEF believes that there is a close relationship between HIV/AIDS and children development in the new millennium. Everyday, HIV/AIDS is threatening the lives of people in different parts of the world and growing to be a powerful killer.
In 2002, UNICEF had initiated the “Say Yes for Children” Campaign to raise the attention of world leaders towards children’s rights and contributed to the determined efforts in building a better world for children and all of us. Fighting against HIV/AIDS is stressed as one of the top priorities, which implies we will work to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensure that children and young people already affected by the disease are cared for.
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, the first item in the agenda was not about water and sanitation or other issues, but on medical and health; and HIV/AIDS was the focal point of the meeting among that. At present, 40 million adults and children are living with HIV/AIDS, at least 10.4 million children under the age of 15 have lost their mother or both parents attributed to HIV/AIDS.
The disease increasingly attacks young people. Of the 5 million new infections in 2001, approximately half are among young people between the age of 15 and 24. Young women are especially vulnerable, 7.3 million young women and 4.5 million young men are reported respectively with an estimated total population of 11.8 million young people who are living with HIV/AIDS –
Those young people who are inevitably forced to live at the margin of the society according to their low social and economic status, they have limit and less access to information, skill, service and support than young people normally do, will have a higher risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS. Young people who inject drugs, sexually abused in the sex trade, homeless and those in the refugee camps are especially vulnerable and unprotected.
In view of this, UNICEF put much emphasis on HIV/AIDS education programmes that aim at preventing a further spread of the disease and lobbying governments to look into the issue for health policy formulation. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF in 40 countries, more than 50% of the young population aged from 15 – 24 has misconception about HIV/AIDS.
UNICEF supports national policies, strategies and action plans implemented in all countries affected by HIV/AIDS to fight against the disease.