Children will actively respond HIV/AIDS

A national forum with the theme: children’s voice and HIV/AIDS will take place in August to continue to share and solve related issues of children infected with HIV/AIDS.

This event manifests Vietnam’s commitment at the East Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation to Children and HIV/AIDS in March 2006. Hanoi is the first of six provinces and cities joining in the national forum “Children’s voice and HIV/AIDS” initiated in July 17.

Gathering children - main force of the forum about problems of children takes many efforts. There were ever moved forums for street children with stories about their lives. However, there are difficulties in gathering children together for the HIV/ADS forums.

Children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS meet difficulties in attending the forum because of their bad health and being afraid of crowd and not bear more discrimination and stigmatization. Even children, who are brave enough to attend the forums, are always reserved and wary. Even international conferences, which are carefully prepared like the Regional Consultation o­n Children and HIV/AIDS last year, also left these feelings in children.

A boy affected by HIV/AIDS in Hai Phong was nervous, and hastily evaded when he accidentally saw his English teacher near the forum.

An eight-year-old girl in Ho Chi Minh City infected with HIV had lost both her parents due to AIDS. She was almost silent and o­nly answered questions by painting. A person from a non-governmental organization always stood behind her, observed and ready to intervene to help her not be hurt due to be asked many questions.

30 children attended the forum held in Hanoi were almost from charity schools and o­nly o­ne child was affected by HIV/AIDS. Stories from children showed that they felt discrimination and disadvantage when they cannot afford to go to school.

Clearly, when understanding about HIV/AIDS, children are mature enough to exchange and discuss the disease-related problems. Moreover, messages and questions raised by them will be practical and bring with more interests for their friends in the same plight.

There are many children are infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS across the country. Hanoi has more than 11,000 people living with HIV; of them 3,000 are full-blown AIDS. It means that many children of these HIV/AIDS carriers suffer disadvantage in spite of infected or not infected with HIV. The Children’s voice and HIV/AIDS forum in Hanoi put forth ten contents, which focus o­n fighting against discrimination and stigmatization, in which, schools must keep secret about children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS; strengthening exchange and persuading parents and adults to believe and support children infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS to integrate into the community; and open more consultation centers for children.

Thought of children from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Bac Giang, Hai Phong, Hue and An Giang will be submitted to the national forum “Children’s voice and HIV/AIDS” held in August. It is hoped that children will present spirit as 24 nations attending the East Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation o­n Children and HIV/AIDS defined “children actively participate in HIV/AIDS response o­n globe.”