This week’s news included the official launch of “Believe it. Do it.” an action campaign by UNAIDS to help end new HIV infections among children by the year 2015.
In launching the campaign, it was cited that 390,000 children become newly infected each year. UNAIDS hopes to end new infections through increased education on the virus.
Pediatric HIV has been one of my interests for several years. It’s one of those topics that isn’t discussed much in day-to-day conversations, but there are children silently suffering around the world.
The medical impact of HIV on children is obvious. However, the impact on other areas of functioning is less widely known. Children with HIV may subsequently face educational and psychosocial difficulties. In particular, the virus is known to affect the brain’s functioning, resulting in deficits in attention, memory and processing speed for infected children. Additionally, they may be more prone to behavioral difficulties, including symptoms of disruptive behavior/conduct disorder (e.g. tantrums, defiance, aggression), depression, anxiety. The impact of the virus is unique to each child, but consequences are lasting.
One of the reasons pediatric HIV isn’t often discussed is due to stigma and discrimination. This stigma arises out of the fact that people have strong reactions to HIV/AIDS being a life-threatening disease, but also due to misinformation about the virus.
You can help by learning more about HIV, as well as by teaching your children about the virus using the following resources:
You can also help by donating to HIV/AIDS organizations in your area. These donations may be financial, but may also include food/clothing, and your particular skill set (e.g. plumbing, IT troubleshooting, medical/legal services, etc.).