A future for children infected with HIV/Aids and Aids orphans
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 25 January 2007 (8th Sitting) (see Doc. 11113, report of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee,
rapporteur: Mr Hancock). Text adopted
by the Assembly on 25 January 2007 (8th Sitting).
1. The world is now entering its twenty-fifth
year with HIV/Aids. The epidemic is spreading and the statistics on
the number of cases and the expected progression of the disease
are alarming. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
must play an active part in current efforts to raise awareness of
this scourge and the need to increase and optimise measures to combat
the epidemic. This calls for political will and co-ordination of
the activities of all those concerned.
2. Poor countries are hardest hit by HIV/Aids, but so also are
children. There is an urgent need for everyone, particularly decision
makers, to address the specific problems of combating the disease
among HIV/Aids-infected children and also to recognise the need
to take care of children whose parents become Aids victims.
3. According to information from international organisations,
across the world, one child under 15 is infected with this virus
every minute, 5 million children under 15 live with HIV and about
15 million children have lost one or both parents to the Aids virus,
12 million of them in Africa. The disaster affects every continent,
but Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, suffers by far the
most tragic consequences.
4. Nor is Europe spared. Indeed, it is currently experiencing
a worrying growth in the number of HIV/Aids cases, particularly
in eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics. Many young, sometimes
very young persons are affected by HIV/Aids and the Aids-orphans
phenomenon is starting to emerge in Europe, albeit on a much lower
scale than in Africa. In western Europe, mother-to-child transmission
had practically disappeared, but as a result of migratory flows
there has been a resurgence of cases of infected children.
5. The member states must introduce a child dimension into their
national and international HIV/Aids policies and their development
aid programmes to third countries, particularly in Africa. This
means that children’s rights and best interests, and the views of
relevant specialists and, if possible, the children themselves,
must always be taken into consideration.
Such policies – adapted as appropriate to specific continents
and countries – must give priority to:
6.1 systematic free screening of infants before they are 18
6.2 prevention of mother-to-child transmission, which means
that all future mothers must have automatic access to early screening;
6.3 free access to antiretroviral treatment for mothers and
children, which presupposes a reduction in the cost of HIV/Aids
medicines and general access to generic and suitable paediatric
HIV/Aids medicines for all;
6.4 measures to prevent the abandonment of infected children
and appropriate reception and care facilities for very young children;
6.5 support for individuals in starting and remaining on treatment
and appropriate nutrition for infected children. These are crucially
important matters, particularly in Africa;
6.6 psychological support and concurrent medical treatment
of opportunistic infections affecting HIV/Aids-infected children;
6.7 the development of research into paediatric HIV/Aids medicines,
vaccinations and diagnostic tools for children.
7. The right of HIV/Aids-infected children to education must
be recognised and they must be able to exercise this right without
discrimination, as well as the right to vocational training, which
is essential to help young HIV/Aids victims find work. Sex education
and information and means of preventing the disease and its transmission
are crucial, particularly for young persons.
8. Strategies are required for caring for Aids orphans, in accordance
with national circumstances. The first priority must be to maintain
children in their own community and environment, while bearing in
mind the potential benefits of adoption, particularly international
adoption. Primary education for Aids orphans must be free, particularly
9. The training of health professionals should not be neglected
in order to fight against prejudice and ignorance of the illness
and against any possible rejection of treatment by health professionals,
which should be punished. Specific information campaigns and activities
– preferably peer-based – are required to target minority and migrant
groups and raise their awareness about the transmission of the virus.
10. Development aid policies, particularly in Africa, should give
priority to children and must not allow funding to be swallowed
up by tortuous bureaucracy. The effectiveness and final destination
of funds must be monitored and preference should be given to practical
projects, particularly ones managed by NGOs, which are key partners
for governments and donors.
11. African governments must be given support in establishing
their health-care systems and measures must be agreed with them
to stem the haemorrhage of health-care workers.
12. Lastly, the Council of Europe member states must make substantial
contributions to the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis
The Assembly considers that it would be useful to study whether
and how the principles outlined in this resolution, as well as in Resolution 1536 (2007)
on HIV/Aids in Europe and in Recommendation 1785 (2007)
on the spread of HIV/Aids to women and girls in Europe,
may be applied outside the European context and therefore decides
to continue its studies on HIV/Aids in respect of developing countries
and particularly in respect of Sub-Saharan Africa, possibly in close
co-operation with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Association
of European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA), as well as with
competent professional organisations.