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2005-11-26-National HIV/AIDS Programs Must Consider Needs of Children Who Have HIV-Positive Parent
"When adults decide how to tackle the world's AIDS crisis, the way it affects children must become part of their thinking," Kerrel McKay, an HIV/AIDS outreach officer for Jamaica's Ministry of Health, writes in a Newsweek opinion piece.
McKay, whose father died of an AIDS-related illness in February 2000 when she was 15, writes that she was "fortunate enough" to receive counseling from the not-for-profit group Jamaica AIDS Support to help her cope with her father's death.
However, McKay says that the help she received was an "anomaly" among children who have HIV-positive parents, adding that, according to UNICEF, less than 10% of children affected by the disease obtain any public support.
Children with HIV-positive parents often are "forced to skip school to tend to their sick parents, left to scrounge for food and medicine and grow up without parental protection," McKay writes, adding that national HIV/AIDS programs need to provide medication, health care, psychological support, education and prevention information to children with an HIV-positive parent, as well as help children care for their parent so he or she can attend school (McKay, Newsweek, 11/28).