Fighting HIV: Children are the key
“My mother died when I was 13. I was the one in the hospital washing her and taking care of her. She didn’t tell me that had HIV. I found out from my dad. She died in 2000. My brother died when he was eight in 2001 and my sister died when she was six in 2002. I was also born with the virus but I lived without getting sick until I was in secondary school. Then I got very sick.”
— Proscovia, age 17, Uganda
In 2005, approximately 2.9 million people died prematurely because of HIV infection. HIV continues to spread around the world with an estimated 4.3 million new infections last year. Approximately 33 million people worldwide live with HIV/AIDS, of whom 2.5 million are children. (Source: UNAIDS, 2007)
More than half a million children under 15 died of HIV in 2006. A young person under 15 is said to contract HIV every 15 seconds. (Source: UNICEF, 2005, Unite Against AIDS)
Children are the keyPlan is well positioned to make a significant contribution in a world of AIDS. HIV has a major impact on the lives of children and adolescents around the world. We believe that children and adolescents hold the key to controlling the spread of HIV. Only through work alongside children and adolescents will it be possible to significantly support children made vulnerable through their parents’ illness and reduce the number of new infections.
Proscovia, who was born with HIV and watched her mother and siblings die from the virus, has made herself a stronger person in order to survive: "At first I hated and stigmatized myself . . . But then I got counseling and it changed my life. I am now on anti-retrovirals and doing well. My advice to fellow youth is: ‘Avoid self-stigma. Feel free and get counseling.’”
ApproachPlan’s HIV programming has come a long way since 1993, when we adopted our first policy for children affected by AIDS. In 1996 the organization defined the parameters essential for mainstreaming HIV programs within our child-centered development work. As the HIV pandemic has evolved, our response has grown rapidly in scale.
Our global annual expenditure on HIV/AIDS programs has increased from $2.6 million in 2000 to $12.1 million in 2005, and we anticipate expanding funding to develop programs to reduce the impact of HIV on children and adolescents.
Plan has made a significant difference in five major areas. These areas are:
- Plan has programs in over 30 countries increasing awareness about HIV and how to prevent its transmission.
- Preventing new HIV infections in young people by expanding access to youth-friendly services for voluntary counseling and testing and for sexual and reproductive health so that young people in Plan areas can understand their HIV status and take informed action.
- Preventing parent to child transmission. Plan Uganda in Tororo has tested 14,000 women, has placed 450 people on life saving ART, and has reduced the mother to child transmission rate from 27% to 10%. (Source: Plan Uganda, Quarterly Report, June 2007)
- Developing strategies to support vulnerable children and adolescents, including orphans, to increase access to services and to develop skills that enable them to live healthy and productive lives. Plan was a founding partner of the Hope for African Children Initiative. Plan is continuing the work started with HACI ensuring that children made vulnerable to HIV are supported with access to memory books, legal services and basic needs such as food, health, and education.
- Support to care providers to improve the health and security of those they are trying to support and to improve their own quality of life. Plan recognizes that the response to HIV requires significant community involvement in decision making and works to support local decision making to address the needs of the most vulnerable community members.
Working together, we can combat AIDS through effective prevention, treatment and education programs. Your support helps provide children, families and communities with the tools they need to fight and face HIV/AIDS. Help us fight HIV/AIDS today!
Learn more about Plan's worldwide programs to fight HIV/AIDS.
Download research and reports documenting Plan's HIV/AIDS methodology and approach.