HIV/AIDS: Children

– in the House of Lords at 11:05 am on 1st December 2005.

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Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Spokesperson in the Lords, International Development, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development) 11:05 am, 1st December 2005

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the recent UNICEF report, Children—the missing face of AIDS.

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, we welcome UNICEF's report launching the global campaign for children affected by AIDS. The United Kingdom was the first country to earmark funding for children affected by AIDS, committing £150 million from 2005 to 2008. We are working with others, including UNICEF, on promoting children's access to prevention, treatment and care and we are co-hosting the global partners' forum to be run early next year with UNICEF. That meeting will consider how to achieve universal access to the care and protection that these children need.

Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Spokesperson in the Lords, International Development, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development)

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply and welcome the efforts made by her and the Government generally on this matter. However, since I asked her a Question exactly one year ago, on World Aids Day, another 3 million people have died of whom 570,000 were children. Now, 15 million children are AIDS orphans. Does she agree with the recent UNICEF report that children have been the invisible face of this pandemic? Clearly, keeping their parents alive is absolutely key, but stopping mother-to-child infection, treating infected children, extending prevention programmes to include all children and strengthening the rights of women and children in particular are all important. Will the Minister ensure that the needs of children are at the centre of the Government's plans to counter the AIDS pandemic in future?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right. We need to look very carefully at the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and women. We need to examine education programmes and ensure that we are looking not only at treatment but also at prevention. That is why we have approved programmes working with UNICEF to support children affected by HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific as well as in Africa. In Kenya, for example, we are contributing to the national fund for vulnerable children and in Mozambique we are funding a network of international and national civil society organisations enabling NGOs to access funds for children affected by AIDS.

Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour

My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of UNICEF UK. On the basis that young women account for 75 per cent of HIV infections among 15 to 24 year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa, how can DfID help empower young women to resist unsafe sex?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, my noble friend is quite right. Preventing HIV infection among women and girls has to be a key element of our programme. We are supporting a range of actions to increase women's ability to negotiate safe sex. We are also working to strengthen male involvement in prevention activities and behaviour change, which is a key element of our strategy. We are also working to help reduce violence against women.

Photo of Baroness Gardner of Parkes Baroness Gardner of Parkes Conservative

My Lords, I have visited families in Asia where AIDS has had a terrible effect. Has the Minister seen today's report on India which said that many people there who have the HIV infection have no idea what it is or how they got it? Of course, India has a vast population. We have all been very aware of the African situation for a long time and in Thailand, which I visited, the situation was terribly bad. Is it not important to educate people so they have at least some idea of how they might contract this condition and how terrible it is?

When I recently asked the Minister about microbicides, he said that he believed that research was continuing. Will the Government support that continuing research, because one way of providing safer sex would be to produce a proper microbicide?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, the noble Baroness is right: education has to be a key element of the programme. But the approach has to be holistic; it is about education, improving the health sector in those countries, prevention and ensuring that there is adequate coverage in terms of condoms. For example, I was appalled, when researching for this Question, to find out that four condoms were available per man per year in Africa. That is ridiculous if we really are going to make progress on this issue. Working with women, education, having a holistic approach and looking at the development of vaccines and microbicides are all essential elements of the programme.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Spokesperson in the Lords (Children), Education & Skills

My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of UNICEF. In the light of the recent survey in the UK by the Terrence Higgins Trust, which found that a third of teenagers think that there is a cure for AIDS, does the Minister agree that a reinvigorated and ongoing education campaign is needed to educate young people about the dangers of AIDS, which continue to exist?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

Yes, my Lords, this is an issue not just for developing countries but also for the developed world.

Photo of Baroness Rawlings Baroness Rawlings Spokespersons In the Lords, Foreign Affairs, Spokespersons In the Lords, International Development

My Lords, following the Minister's reply about children in Africa and India, will she tell the House what discussions the Government have had to ensure sufficient EU funding is targeted at HIV/AIDS-infected children in eastern Europe?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, I do not have the figures for eastern Europe but I am happy to write to the noble Baroness about that. In May of this year, the EU agreed a new programme of action on AIDS, TB and malaria. The EC has a good track record of advocacy for research into new prevention technologies and the EU is also a major supporter of the global fund.

Photo of Baroness Tonge Baroness Tonge Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the Minister will know that patient compliance is essential for the correct treatment of AIDS with antiretroviral drugs, and that this depends on good nutrition and taking the drugs properly. Will she ensure that any programmes that this country sponsors for treating AIDS in developing countries are combined with a programme for good health infrastructure for the delivery of the drugs and good nutrition for the patients receiving them?

Photo of Baroness Amos Baroness Amos President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords (Privy Council Office)

My Lords, the noble Baroness is right; we need an holistic approach. Nutrition is important, as are developing the health sector and working on prevention. Taking individual responsibility is particularly important for women and girls who may find themselves in situations where they have to take action themselves rather than depend on others. We take an holistic approach in all countries and seek to work with partners to ensure that we have a co-ordinated approach at country level.