UNICEF launches AIDS campaign in Britain

An English heiress, a Kenyan mother with HIV and a 13-year-old Lesotho girl pleaded Tuesday for donations to help children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS during the launch of a new, five-year global AIDS campaign. The central London event was one of several held around the world to mark the launch of a 17 billion-pound - Ђ25 billion or US$30 million – campaign by UNICEF and UNAIDS to raise awareness and money for children infected with HIV, living with an infected parent or orphaned by AIDS.

Jemima Khan, daughter of the late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, met some of the children targeted by the campaign on a recent trip to Kenya.

She spoke Tuesday of a 14-year-old boy who had to drop out of school to care for his HIV positive mother and younger brother. As the sole provider for the family, he brought home the equivalent of 12 pence - Ђ0.18 or US$0.21 - per day, the AP reports.

UNICEF estimates that 15 million children have lost at least one parent to AIDS, but fewer than 10 percent of children orphaned by AIDS receive public support.

The joint UNICEF and UNAIDS campaign, called "Unite for Children. Unite Against AIDS," hopes that 80 percent of orphaned children will be receiving public support and services by 2010.

The campaign's other three goals relate to prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS in children and adolescents, groups that UNICEF's British Executive Director David Bull said have been neglected in the past.

Nais Mason, a Kenyan who has lived with HIV for 20 years, said she is frustrated that the developing world cannot access technology to prevent mothers from infecting their children with HIV. She and other campaign representatives spoke of pediatric formulations of HIV drugs that cost eight times more than adult forms because there is no market for them in "rich" countries, where HIV prevention methods are known and accessible. A.M.

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