Every day, more than 1,000 children become infected with HIV and as many as half of those will die because they’ll never get the treatment they need.
Millions of children around the world suffer the haunting effects of HIV and AIDS, either directly or indirectly. Developing countries lack the resources for HIV prevention education, testing, and adequate medical services to combat the disease. The consequences are devastating to the children.
Twenty-five countries report a 50 percent or more decrease in new HIV infections since 2001. Tragically, in that same period, new cases of HIV in the Middle East and North Africa have increased by more than 35 percent.
In sub-Saharan Africa, almost one out of every 20 adults is infected with HIV, accounting for 69 percent of the world’s HIV-infected people. Rates of HIV infection have also increased in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Despite the fact that fewer people are dying from AIDS-related causes worldwide, death rates have increased in these areas.
Seventy-two percent of children with HIV do not have access to the treatment so readily available in developed countries. Thirty children die of AIDS-related causes every hour. More than 16 million children have lost a parent or been orphaned due to AIDS. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Far-reaching Consequences of HIV/AIDS
Children depend on their elders for support and protection. When a mother or father becomes ill with an AIDS-related condition, the entire family structure begins to crumble. When parents are unable to work, the financial strain can quickly plunge a family into poverty. Less money means poor nutrition for everyone, spiraling health problems, and inability to get medical care.
Parents and caregivers can have difficulty performing basic childcare duties and children often drop out of school in order to help the family. Children who lose one or both parents often have no extended family to care for them and no one who can afford to take them in, leaving them to languish in residential care facilities.
Children with HIV are more vulnerable to typical childhood diseases and infections, and recovery is more difficult. Follow-up care is often nonexistent. The reasons for this include lack of information for parents, social stigma, poverty, and inability of medical facilities and/or governments to create a workable system of follow up.
How Children Contract HIV
In most cases, infection occurs between an HIV infected mother and her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. Unsafe blood transfusions and unsterlised needles in poor communities also contribute to the problem. In countries where children are more apt to have sex at a younger age, the lifetime risk of HIV infection is higher.
Preventing HIV in Children
Rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be lowered by treating and educating HIV infected women. Safer medical settings and procedures add another layer of protection for children.
How to Help Children Affected by HIV/AIDS
A child sponsorship charity works to provide access to medical care, nutrition, and education. When you sponsor a child, you help that child’s whole community to learn more about HIV prevention and make it more likely that people will receive the treatment they need. Child sponsorship charities help to provide a more promising tomorrow for the children who need it most.
Fewer unnecessary deaths, fewer orphans, stronger communities…one sponsorship at a time. We can do this.