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ETHIOPIA: UNICEF, gov't tackling HIV/AIDS transmission to children

Photo: Anthony Mitchell/IRIN
AIDS warning poster
ADDIS ABABA, 1 May 2003 (PlusNews) - The UN's Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Ethiopian government are tackling mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, which has
affected as many as 200,000 children in Ethiopia.

UNICEF has joined the ministry of health and the HIV/AIDS Prevention Control Office (HAPCO) to combat transmission of the virus.

"The HIV/AIDS pandemic is having an overwhelming impact on the world's children," said Bjorn Ljungqvist, UNICEF head in Ethiopia. "The vast majority of those children infected were
passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding."

UNICEF says around the world some 1,500 unborn or newborn babies are infected with HIV each day. Most of these babies will die before they can celebrate their fifth birthday.

Globally nearly three million children under the age of 15 years are living with HIV/AIDS and 580,000 children died of AIDS in 2001.

"But means exist to reduce the risk of this tragedy," added Ljungqvist.

UNICEF has launched a two week campaign to train HIV/AIDS workers in issues such as voluntary counselling and testing as part of routine antenatal care, as well as safe, affordable infant feeding practices for HIV-positive mothers.

The government is extending help to prevent mother to child transmission, which so far is only available in the capital Addis Ababa. After the training programme is complete, it will
launch four sites countrywide – covering the north, south, east and west of Ethiopia.

Theme (s): Other,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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