One Family’s Struggle Against HIV/AIDS

Save the Children plans to double the number of children it is helping worldwide by 2012, with the help of renewed global AIDS funding signed into law by President Bush in July 2008.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) actually triples U.S. international assistance to $48 billion over five years, up from the original $15 billion five-year program that expired in September 2008.

But Congress still has to appropriate the funds up to the authorized level and the next Congress will have an important challenge to achieve a fully funded PEPFAR.

“This legislation can bring hope and lasting change to millions of children and their families,” said Save the Children’s Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Miles. “It can have great implications for our efforts to reach our goals.”

The newly reauthorized PEPFAR specifies an aggressive U.S. goal of providing prevention and treatment for five million children, more than doubling the current 2.7 million now benefiting from its funding in 100 countries worldwide. According to Miles, this goal dovetails with Save the Children’s strategic priorities including insuring children are protected and that children are healthy and well-nourished.

Notable Improvements in the New Legislation

Save the Children and other international NGOs were instrumental in achieving some notable improvements in this year’s bill. One example is the provision for orphans and vulnerable children, which ensures a 10% earmark, and which now defines “children affected by or vulnerable to” HIV/AIDS according to their level of vulnerability, rather than by the cause of that vulnerability. In the past, children put at risk by something other than HIV/AIDS were often denied services.

Save the Children also advocated for comprehensive programming for HIV/AIDS. The bill now funds “wraparound” programs for maternal health, food and nutrition, education and livelihoods that were not previously included. The bill instructs the president to produce a strategy addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of orphans. It also will fund training for 140,000 new health workers, and will invest in building much-needed laboratories and clinics.

“The new funding will allow for more comprehensive programs for orphans and vulnerable children, for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and to scale up HIV prevention for most-at-risk youth,” said Dr. Tonya Nyagiro, Associate Vice President for HIV/AIDS at Save the Children.

Observers note that the new measure no longer includes the requirement that one-third of all spending for preventing HIV/AIDS must go for “abstinence-only” sex education and faithfulness programs. Ninety percent of HIV infections are through sexual transmission. Young people, ages 15 to 24, account for 45 percent of all new HIV infections worldwide.  So linking young people, sexuality and HIV is a very important, but sensitive, part of a prevention agenda.

The United States has played a leading role in the fight against AIDS over the past five years. The reauthorization of PEPFAR will help maintain the U.S. global position and renew our commitment to fight AIDS. However, we can't forget that it is children who are the most vulnerable victims of AIDS, and the number of children orphaned or in need are growing.

Save the Children urges the new Congress to continue to provide resources for community-based efforts that provide care, support and prevention information and services, and to allocate 10 percent of this funding to programs for orphans and vulnerable children, giving them a much better chance at leading healthy and safe lives.

Save the Children is currently funded by PEPFAR for its programs in Ethiopia, Haiti, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.

Key Facts: Children, HIV/AIDS and PEPFAR

  • An estimated 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV in 2007. Of those, about 2 million were children. About 15.5 million were women.
  • More than 1,000 children under 15 are infected with HIV each day, most from mother-to-child transmission.
  • While children represent 17 percent of all new HIV infections, they are only 9 percent of individuals receiving antiretroviral treatment under PEPFAR.
  • Without treatment, about half of all HIV-positive children will die by their second birthday.
  • 15-to-24-year-olds represent the largest and fastest-growing group of the newly infected.
  • Almost 90% of all HIV-positive children live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An estimated 15 million children already have been orphaned by AIDS; by 2010, the number is expected to reach 25 million.

Sources: UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic; Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Online Resources

Watch a video about HIV/AIDS programs in Ethiopia supported through Save the Children partner USAID

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

The One Campaign

Last Updated March 2009

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