If appropriate steps are not taken to restrict spread of the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa, it is predicted that more than 18 million African children would be orphaned by the end of 2010. This would correspond to a 20% increase in just 4 years time.
The following prediction was projected in the AIDS conference (London), attended by more than 150 health professionals and Government authorities from Africa, Asia, America and Europe.
The U.N. Children's Fund, the U.N. AIDS agency, and Britain's Department for International Development are some of the notable funding agencies that sponsored the conference.
More than 2 million children are infected with the deadly HIV virus and million others have lost their parents, worldwide. Improving the quality of life of these children would be the main target of the global conference. The plight of these children has been largely ignored according to Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF.
'Children are the missing face in the AIDS pandemic. Every minute of every day a child under the age of 15 years old dies of HIV and AIDS. There are also 15 million orphans that are children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS, creating a tremendous problem in the highest prevalence countries, particularly those in southern Africa,' said Veneman.
The AIDS pandemic is dangerous than what is foreseen at the moment. It has even been compared to global warming which poses a significant challenge, in terms of social impact.
'It is not enough to have technology, it is not enough to have the medical approach, you need to take care of the stigma, the women, the whole complex issues around AIDS which makes it so difficult and totally unique from any other disease,' said Peter Piot, chief of the U.N. AIDS agency.
Concerns regarding the expensive anti-retroviral drugs for children were also raised at the conference. The cost of children's anti-HIV drugs is six times greater than that of adults. It was further emphasized that drug manufactures should work towards developing, safe, cost effective drugs to suppress HIV infection in children.
Minimising chances of HIV transmission from mother to offspring, pediatric treatment of HIV/AIDS, prevention of HIV infection among adolescents and teenagers, and protection of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS were other topics dealt with in the AIDS conference.