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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 20:38 GMT
UN highlights Aids orphans
Tram passengers in Bangkok are offered free condoms
Bangkok tram passengers are offered free condoms
The United Nations appealed to governments to do more to help millions of children orphaned as a result of the spread of Aids.

A report released on World Aids Day estimates there are more than 11.2 million orphans worldwide, 95% of them in sub-Saharan Africa.


For two years I witnessed my mother go through pain - this year she died

Andrew Jackson Ukurut, Ugandan orphan
It says the number will soar to 13 million by the end of the year 2000.

The report highlights the strain the disease is putting on families, as well as the discrimination suffered by Aids orphans. And it calls for better counselling and support services.

The UN's appeal was reinforced on Wednesday by Queen Noor of Jordan and Hillary Clinton, wife of the American president, at a symposium in New York.


Things will get worse before they get better

Dr Peter Piot, UNAids
Mrs Clinton called on governments around the world to end the conspiracy of silence about the disease and to be more active and more open in their Aids awareness campaigns.

"We need political leaders to help erase the stigma that keeps too many people with Aids from seeking treatment," she said.

"We must fight the ignorance that fosters the spread of this disease."

Children 'uniquely threatened'

Dr Peter Piot, executive director of the UN's HIV/Aids programme UNAids, said the orphan statistics were ''staggering''.

''What makes this epidemic uniquely threatening to children is the age factor,'' he said.

''Half of all people with HIV become infected before they turn 25, and they typically die of Aids while their children are still too young to fend for themselves.''

A child at a home for HIV+ and abandonned children J'burg
South Africa has around one million Aids orphans
The UN estimates more than 50 million people suffer from HIV, the virus which can lead to Aids. The vast majority of these are in developing countries.

This year, Aids deaths reached a record 2.6 million with 5.6 million more people becoming infected with HIV worldwide.

But a survey by the MTV music television station in 11 countries revealed more than a quarter of young people questioned knew nothing about HIV or Aids.

One infection every six seconds

Events have been held around the world to mark World Aids Day, which is observed by 190 countries.

Aids facts
By 2000, 16 million people will have died from Aids
There are an estimated 11.2 million orphans resulting from the Aids pandemic
Every 10 seconds a child or young person is infected with HIV
The ceremonies began at St Paul's Cathedral, one of London's most famous landmarks, which was bathed in red light on Tuesday evening, as it launched events around the globe.

A drum beat sounded every six seconds, marking the time it takes for a new infection to occur somewhere in the world.

In Berlin some 700 people lit candles on a red ribbon after a funeral march for the victims of Aids.

The red ribbon is symbolic of the solidarity with people who are HIV-positive, and with people who have died of Aids.

Aids activists handed out condoms in buses in Bangkok, in Thailand, and dropped them from a helicopter over Pretoria, in South Africa.

Russian epidemic

Africa continues to be the worst afflicted continent, but the number of Aids orphans is also soaring in Latin America and South East Asia.

The Thai authorities launched an Aids-awareness campaign
The Thai authorities launched an Aids-awareness campaign
However, the biggest increase in the spread of HIV is in the states of the former Soviet Union, where the number of sufferers has doubled in the past two years.

Drug use and prostitution are on the increase in Russia and infections are predicted to explode further because health services are ill-equipped to cope.

One country that is winning international praise for its success in the fight against Aids is Brazil, which is estimated to have more than 500,000 infected with HIV.

Health authorities in the country distribute free anti-HIV drugs to all patients, which is believed to have helped reduce the number of people being hospitalised.

In Washington, 10 people were arrested on the eve of World Aids Day as hundreds of protesters accused the Clinton administration of hindering developing countries' access to Aids drugs.

Outside the White House, demonstrators accused the US government of working to preserve drug companies' profits by keeping cheaper, generic medicines out of poor countries.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Adam Brookes reports
"The virus is already clawing its way into China's population"
Stephen Cviic
"Brazilian Government says it's extremely worried by continuing spread of the disease"
BBC's Mark Devenport at the UN
"UN conference heard harrowing accounts from three orphans"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Join our LIVE debate
Live at 1400 GMT: Aids - what can be done?
See also:

01 Dec 99 | Africa
02 Dec 99 | South Asia
31 Aug 99 | South Asia
12 May 99 | Aids
11 Jun 99 | Americas
02 Jul 99 | Aids
01 Dec 99 | Health
15 Nov 99 | Health
01 Dec 99 | Health
Internet links:


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