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2008.08.18


* UNICEF: International AIDS conference closes with renewed commitment to children
* 02 min 21 secs
* 07 Aug 2008


As the International AIDS Conference came to a close in Mexico City, issues affecting children were front and centre.


Jimmy Kolker, UNICEF's HIV/AIDS Chief says
"This conference – international AIDS society conference, which is the 17th – it's the first one that's really had children on the agenda. There have been more than 300 presentations dealing with children and AIDS. And the issues of children, especially prevention of mother-to-child transmission, pediatric treatment, prevention among adolescents and protection issues for children affected by AIDS, have been in almost every session, from the one with the secretary general of The United Nations, to the community groups. These issues are now at the center of the fight against AIDS, and we realize how much needs to be done."

An articulate roster young people were on hand to share their experiences, including Gugulethu Kumalo of Zimbabwe, who is now 20 years old. Her parents died 10 years ago of AIDS, and she was sent to live with an aunt and uncle.


"My new parents had my brother and I tested for HIV," she says. "My brother tested negative; I tested postive, so ladies and gentlemen, I was born HIV-positive." One urgent concern in Zimbabwe is sexual violence against women and girls, including torture and gang rape, where the perpetrators often go unprosecuted. "When one woman is raped in Africa by 18 men, why should it take up to 20 years for criminals to be brought to book," says Betty Makoni, the founder and director of Girl Child Network, a non-profit organization that supports nearly 700 girls' clubs.

"But only one woman raped in Europe, it takes hours. It should be headlines in every newspaper to say, this is abnormal."


Despite signs of progress in the fight against AIDS, some 370,000 children were newly infected with HIV last year, making it clear that much more work must be done.

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