HC Deb 29 March 2000 vol 347 c179W
18. Mr. Coaker

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the impact on children in Africa of the spread of AIDS. [115447]

Clare Short

AIDS is now the biggest killer in Africa. A first major impact on children in Africa is that there are now 10.4 million African children who will have lost their mothers or both parents to AIDS. This is 90 per cent. of the global total of AIDS orphans. Many of these orphans are infected with the disease from birth or from breast feeding, reversing the gains made in child survival rates over the last 30 years. DFID is working in collaboration with NGO partners in many countries in Africa to reach AIDS orphans with the care and support they need. We are a significant contributor to UNICEF who have extensive programmes with orphans throughout Africa (£10.5 million contributed in 1998).

A second major impact of the disease is on young people. About half of all new HIV infections world-wide occur in young people aged 15-24, with girls being particularly at risk to the disease. We need to reach children and young people early on and enable them to make preventative choices. DFID is funding a number of multi-media projects such as the BBC Great Lakes Lifeline service, and a children's radio service for the Great Lakes region, Angola and Mozambique. These services seek to reach young people and children with the right health and sex education information and messages.

Finally, the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education system is staggering. In the worst affected countries, more than 30 per cent, of teachers are infected with HIV, and many more students and teachers are not able to attend school because they are needed at home to care for sick relatives. Girls are particularly affected, often being the first family members to be pulled out of education to help in the home. DFID is working with a number of Governments in sub-Saharan Africa to assess and plan for the impact of the pandemic on their education systems, and to develop effective HIV/AIDS education programmes for schools. DFID is also working with NGO partners to provide support to girls and boys whose involvement in education is threatened by HIV/AIDS.

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