Unicef: African children orphaned by AIDS could top 18 million

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

As UNICEF launches a global campaign to help the youngest victims of HIV/AIDS, the charity has warned that 18 million children may be orphaned by the disease by 2010.

They say that every minute, a child dies from an AIDS-related disease, a child becomes infected with HIV, and four people in age group 15-24 become infected with the disease.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “Nearly 25 years into the pandemic, help is reaching less than 10 percent of the children affected by HIV/AIDS, leaving too many children to grow up alone, grow up too fast or not grow up at all. Simply put, AIDS is wreaking havoc on childhood.”

The campaign, "Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS" will be launched this afternoon in New York. Along with goodwill ambassador Jemima Khan, and UNICEF's special ambassador and former Bond actor Roger Moore, several world leaders and governmental ministers from around the world will be attending the event.

The UNICEF advisor in Nairobi, Naisiadet Mason, told Reuters: "The day I was told I was HIV positive I was devastated and alone.

"We must create the networks, remove the stigma, supply the drugs. We want to get HIV treated as just another disease because we know it is manageable."

UNICEF will be using Kenya as a case to highlight the "years of neglect" of youngsters infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.