How is the United Nations
addressing the AIDS crisis?
As you are
reading this text, someone in your country has been affected by the AIDS
crisis. People in every part of the world have been affected by the AIDS pandemic.
Every nation in the world has had to take steps to address it.
According to a recent United Nations estimate, 42 million people across the
globe are infected with HIV-AIDS.
††††††††††† Because AIDS has had such far-reaching
effects, in the year 2000, for the first time in the history of the United
Nations, the Security Council took up a health issue - HIV-AIDS. The
world body declared the spread of the virus a global emergency, a threat to
peace and security in Africa, the continent
that has been the hardest hit by the disease. The AIDS-Virus was
considered no less destructive than warfare itself. In the year 2000, armed
conflict took the lives of 2,000 people in Africa,
while the AIDS virus claimed the lives of 2 million.
the effect of the spreading AIDS virus has created 13 million orphans, 95 per
cent of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa,
a region where the crisis has been particularly deadly. Because so many have
died, the very infrastructure of the region is endangered. So many people who play key roles
in society - doctors, teachers, farmers - are dying of AIDS.
is the United Nations doing to address the AIDS crisis? UN-AIDS and its
agencies have brought some innovative ways of spreading the message
that, first, people need to overcome the stigma of AIDS so they can come forward to learn
about prevention, diagnosis and treatment. One way to transmit
this message is by providing education and AIDS awareness training
to local community members whose work brings them into regular contact
with other members. One such local commuity member
is Paul Lopez, a hairdresser in Mexico
City. Paulís clients end to confide in him, their
regular hairdresser. Therefore, he was trained by a UN-AIDS programme to dispense advice about testing and treatment
of HIV-AIDS. Now, along with advice about beauty, Paul tells clients
how they can protect themselves from the AIDS virus or where they can go for
treatment should they need it.
crisis that United Nations programmes address is
the crisis of care produced by the overwhelming number of AIDS orphans, 95
per cent of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa,
where the spread of AIDS has been particularly lethal. Normally, when a
child's parents die of AIDS, other family members, such as uncles and aunts,
will take responsibility for the orphaned child. But because there are such increasing numbers of AIDS orphans and because
the economic resources of some communities are so limited, it is increasingly
difficult to find adults who can take in extra children. Often,
children live by themselves in their deceased parents'
home, surviving as well as they can. A typical case is fourteen year-old
Justin of Malawi who has to care for his 10-year-old brother and
nine-year-old sister. Justin says it is very hard to find enough to eat
although he does his best to support himself and his
his job carrying food for merchants. Since Justin and his siblings have no
one to take them in, they continue to live in their deceased parents' home,
surviving as best they can. United Nations and its agencies such
as UNICEF sends aid workers and mobilizes community-based volunteer
groups to go to the homes or orphaned children with daily supplies of food,
money and advice on how to spend it. The aid workers also know the necessity
of encouraging the children to go to school.
Children's chances of completing their education are cut in half once they
the Ugandan village
of Kalong, for example,
a tragic scene that is all too common in rural villages took place:
six-year-old Nakeyeyune cried as the elders decided
who would take custody of her
six-month-old brother and other young siblings after both his parents had
died from AIDS-related causes. In Uganda, one quarter of all
families is caring for AIDS orphans. The poverty of many rural families makes
it difficult for them to take responsibility for more
One way the United Nations helps single
and foster parents to raise income levels is by fostering micro-credit
cooperatives in rural villages. Micro-credit programmes,
allow traditional craft-makers and farmers to form cooperatives and sell more
of what they produce. The increased incomes
enable single and adoptive foster parents to
raise their income levels so they can support orphaned children. Such programmes have been especially successful among single