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Humanitarian issues

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 03 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:76

Young people affected by HIV must be supported year in, year out

  1. John Nicholson, Secretary, HIV Alliancea,
  2. Neil Gerrard, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on AIDSb,
  3. Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on healthb
  1. a HIV Alliance, 75 Ardwick Green North, Manchester M12 6FX
  2. b House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
  3. c BMA, London WC1H 9JP
  4. d Child Advocacy International, Academic Department of Paediatrics, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 6QG

    Editor—The increase in cases of HIV infection worldwide is reported to have included 600 000 new cases in children in 19971; the theme of the most recent World AIDS Day was children. The danger with this theme, and the day, is that we may isolate both—as if HIV matters on only one day a year and children with HIV infection are separate from the rest of the population.

    The truth is that HIV infection is with us all year round, across the world. The UN report shows that, worldwide, over 30 million people have HIV infection. Most do not have access to clean water, adequate housing, or the basic health care that might be taken for granted in developed countries. Children live in households where whole generations are being wiped out by starvation and war. People fleeing from such situations may find themselves ostracised and penniless on the streets of richer countries such as our own, seeking asylum while benefits are removed.

    In Britain, children and young people living in households in which somebody is infected with HIV are not immune to all the other pressures. Such households may, for example, experience poverty, unemployment, injecting drug use, and poor housing and are then subject to the pressures on …

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