ERI at Caritas conference on Children and HIV/AIDS

Brian Bond travelled to Rome in October to make a presentation at a Conference on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and TB among children.

The conference was jointly organized by the International Catholic Relief Agency, Caritas Internationalis, and the US Embassy to the Vatican. It was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the Stop TB Partnership, Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. The conference was held at the Pontificia Universita della Sante Croce.

Some of the other presenters included Miguel Humberto Diaz, the US Ambassador to the Vatican; Lesley Ann Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis; Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva; Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS which oversees the UN program to combat HIV/AIDS and Dr Deborah Birx the Director of the Center for Disease Control’s Global AIDS program.

Caritas Internationalis Conference, Rome, Oct 2009

Caritas Internationalis Conference, Rome, Oct 2009

In case you are wondering what Brian was doing in such distinguished company – it was to speak about the experience of organizing the Caritas children’s letter writing campaign through Edmund Rice schools around the world – a campaign which asked pharmaceutical companies and governments for a greater commitment to improved access to testing and treatment for children living with HIV and HIV/TB Co-infection.

Some key points made by speakers included the following:-
– 800 children die every day from AIDS related illness
– inexpensive and effective measures to prevent these deaths already exist
– 97% of children with HIV are infected when the virus is transmitted from the mother (2007 figures) – something that is also easily preventable

The fundamental reason for the persistence of this scandalous state of affairs of course is that it is the children of the poor who are largely the ones who are infected with HIV and who are susceptible to TB (another easily preventable disease). As a result there is no profit incentive for pharmaceutical companies to research, test, manufacture and market suitable medication. Nor is their sufficient political will in developing countries to address the underlying issues that contribute to the problem.

More information can be found at the conference website here.

Lear more about this campaign from Caritas

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