Last year, 120 000 children died in sub-Saharan Africa of HIV/Aids-related illnesses, the 13th international Aids impact conference was told.
Professor Lorraine Sherr, professor of Clinical and Health Psychology at University College, London, and chairperson of the international scientific board, said part of the reason children were highly affected could be that they get sicker.
“We also know there is a lag in getting them tested and delays in getting them on treatment. The first 1 000 days of a child’s life are very important and we want to push children to be first to be treated.”
Sherr said in terms of the epidemic we were now in the “best and worst place” as there were treatments available but things like stigma were still there. “Even government and funders don’t have Aids in the forefront, it’s either they are tired of Aids, which is a bad thing, or Aids is just a fact of life.”
Student-researcher Helen Mebrahtu gave a presentation on HIV in children. She said they found that children are only physically affected and not mentally affected by HIV. The conference will conclude on Tuesday.