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Giving Children With HIV a Chance to Live. Caritas Sets Priorities for World AIDS Day
ROME, NOV. 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- For World AIDS Day on Wednesday, the international Caritas organization is urging greater investment in HIV-positive children, and calling for a reduction of transmission of the virus from mothers to children.

“We need to give children with HIV the chance to live,” said Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis. “Caritas asks governments and drug companies to support better and earlier testing and treatment for these children. This is a life or death situation.”

The UNAIDS Global Report for 2010 says 2.5 million children are living with HIV. The report adds that 90% of HIV-positive children live in Africa but only 26% of them are receiving life-saving treatment. Fifty percent of untreated children with HIV die before their second birthday.

In this context, Caritas is calling for support of its HAART [Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment] for Children campaign, launched in 2009.

Though these medicines are available at low cost in many parts of the world, mothers often resist testing because of fear. Caritas reported that 90% of HIV-infected infants are born to mothers who were never tested and never received medicines to prevent transmission.

For 2001, Caritas announced, the organization will focus on advocacy for lower prices with an expanded range of HIV medications; on making accurate pediatric HIV and TB testing tools available at local clinics, rather than concentrating them in urban centers; and on promoting greater access to programs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.