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Most African Children with AIDS Have No Access to Medical Care


Michel Sidibe, head of the United Nations AIDS agency, speaks in Rome at a conference on HIV/AIDS

Michel Sidibe, head of the United Nations AIDS agency, speaks in Rome at a conference on HIV/AIDS

A United Nations official says nearly 95 percent of African children living with AIDS do not have a way to get treatment for the disease.

Michel Sidibe is executive director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. Researchers have shown that infection with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, leads to development of the disease.

Mr. Sidibe spoke Tuesday during a visit to Cameroon. There, people living with AIDS reported shortages of antiretroviral drugs.

The UN official said that more than 90 percent of the three million children infected with AIDS live in African countries south of the Sahara. Patients living with AIDS in sub-Sarahan Africa often do not have access to medical treatment.

“We need to think about treatment for children. This is really a major challenge for me because it is a forgotten phase,” Mr. Sidibe said. He added that only six percent of children living with AIDS in Africa have access to treatment.

UNAIDS reported that only 24 percent of children worldwide needing antiretroviral treatment received it in 2013. That same year, 190,000 children died of the disease.

Mr. Sidibe said many people with AIDS die in silence. In many places in Africa, talking about the disease remains a taboo subject – something that should not be discussed.

Minyim Jean has been living with AIDS for 15 years. He says it is very difficult to get complete treatment for the disease. Some medical supplies are not always available, he says. Some doctors even change treatment for some patients because they do not have enough supplies.

UNAIDS research shows that sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious problem with HIV and AIDS in the world. The disease has had major social and economic effects on the area. Twenty-five million people with AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. That represents about 70 percent of all cases.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA’s Moki Edwin Kindzeka reported on this story from Cameroon. Triwik Kurniasari adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

patientn. a person who receives medical care or treatment

tabooadj. not acceptable to talk about or do

supplies – n. things that are needed for a particular purpose and that will be used by a particular person or group

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