Seminar on children affected by HIV and AIDS: celebrating 10 years
On Thursday 3rd April, 60 people from across the development sector and government gathered at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for a day-long seminar on children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS.
We were joined by Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone MP, who outlined the ways in which DFID is prioritising children and young people following the review of their Position Paper on HIV, Towards Zero Infections: Two Years On.
Hajjarah Nagadya, from the International Community of Women living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICWEA), joined the meeting via Skype from Kampala, and reflected firstly on her own experiences of HIV diagnosis as a teenager, and later spoke on where we should be focusing our investments in terms of effective treatment for women.
Just 34% of children living with HIV are accessing treatment globally, compared to 64% of adults
The first session on younger children saw a presentation from Gareth Tudor Williams, Imperial College, focusing on progress, challenges and opportunities of HIV treatment among children. Sian Long then presented on protection and resilience, and synergies for child protection systems and children affected by HIV in a global context. Hannah Kuper from LSHTM then presented on the challenges of the intersection between HIV and disability.
Disability is only referenced in two national AIDS strategies
During the afternoon session on older children and adolescents, Helen Leadbitter (Children’s Society) presented on young carers affected by HIV and the effects caring for a family member may have on the education, mental and physical health, self-confidence and self-esteem of children and young people. Co-chair of the CABA group, Kate Iorpenda (International HIV/AIDS Alliance) and STOPAIDS trustee Maria Phelan (Harm Reduction International) highlighted the gaps in evidence around children and young people who inject drugs, and outlined a pilot project developing a set of indicators around working with at-risk adolescents in the context of harm reduction. Finally, Lucy Mills from Grassroots Soccer presented their work using sports coaching to reach vulnerable young people, and Stef Dringus (LSHTM) presented their preliminary findings on the use of sport as a health intervention in South Africa.
The final session focused on future challenges and opportunities, with Victoria Forsgate (Restless Development) outlining their work with young people on the post-2015 framework. Louise Holly (Save the Children) presented a vision for a child-centred focus for future development work, noting that although progress has been made since 1990, there is still much to be done to protect children around the world. Save the Children recommendations to reduce newborn mortality include tackling gender inequality and investing in health workers – read more here.
In 2011, 3 million babies died in their first month of life.
Hajjarah (ICWEA) made a passionate speech in favour of empowering mothers to support their children and the need to combat stigma, arguing that gender equality is an essential part of the response to HIV. Pete McDermott (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) gave a final presentation on where we should focus our investments to ensure an effective HIV response for children, raising challenges of evidence bases, accountability, integration of HIV and children’s services, and the unique challenges facing adolescents affected by HIV.
The day finished with a toast to the ten years’ work of the CABA group from Ian Govendir, STOPAIDS trustee and CEO of AIDS Orphan. Ian recently returned from a trip to Northern Uganda, and witnessed the significant number of children still unable to access the treatment they need. He praised the work of the co-chairs of the group, Stuart Kean (World Vision) and Kate Iorpenda (International HIV/AIDS Alliance) for their tireless work over the past ten years.