Britain giving $88 million to UNICEF for AIDS orphans

Friday, December 17, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The British government will give UNICEF $88 million for its work with children orphaned by AIDS, both parties announced Thursday.

Most of the money will be spent in sub-Saharan Africa, where the AIDS epidemic continues, said Gareth Thomas, British international development minister, at a news conference at the World Bank.

"The international community, working with developing countries, needs to scale up its response, not only with AIDS but with the developing orphan crisis," Thomas said.

According to UNICEF, 15 million children worldwide have lost at least one parent to AIDS, and 12.3 million of those children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Some money will also be spent in Asia, where trends point to a growing AIDS problem, UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy said.

The group plans to provide more care and treatment for children, raise awareness among local and international governments, and work to reduce transmission of HIV from mothers to children.

The money is part of a three-year, $300 million plan by the British government to support children affected by AIDS. Thomas was to detail the plans at a conference on children and AIDS at the World Bank this week.

The British plan also includes spending about $4.8 million toward a five-year trial of anti-retroviral drugs in children, with the goal of decreasing time spent on the toxic therapy, Thomas said.

The United Kingdom's Medical Research Council will help fund and run the program, which will also explore whether the therapy can be administered by doctors and nurses rather than laboratories. That would mean costs could be lowered and treatment could be expanded outside of major cities.

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