Today marks World AIDS Day. AIDS continues to impact many people we know and many communities of which we are part. Since this is a parenting blog, however, I want to do what I have done in previous years, and highlight some recent statistics about AIDS and children. The numbers, of course, don’t capture the personal stories, the parents who must watch their children die, and the children left orphaned, but the data is devastating in its own way:
- According to 2009 UNAIDS estimates, the latest available, there were 2.5 million children under 15 among the 33.3 million people living with HIV, up from 2 million in 2001. Of the 2.5 million, 2.3 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- There are now an estimated 16.6 million orphans aged 0-17 because of AIDS, up from 10 million in 2001. 14.8 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The good news, such as it is, is that new infections among children are decreasing as access to services for preventing mother-to-child transmission has increased, UNAIDS reports. An estimated 370,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2009, down 24 percent from 2004.
- Additionally, deaths among children under 15 declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2009, from an estimated 320,000 to 260,000. This reflects not only an increase in our ability to prevent mother-to-child transmission, but also an increase in access to treatment for children.
May today not be the only day we think of those affected, or try to do something to help them. Over at Change.org, Brie Cadman lists five ways to do so. It’s a start.
(Addendum: I was just informed that Positively Aware, a leading magazine devoted to HIV treatment, has published a striking photo essay, “A Day With HIV In America.” The description reads, “Taken in cities and towns around the country on September 21, 2010, this series of 100 photos of which only 26 were selected for the print edition—puts a human face on AIDS by depicting a diverse range of HIV-positive Americans as they live their everyday lives.” Worth a look. Make sure to mouse-over the photos for captions.)