HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa increases orphan rate

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ROME, October 23 (Itar-Tass) -- There are about 4.2 million orphans whose parents died of AIDS in Central and West Africa, says a UNICEF press release received by Itar-Tass on Sunday.

The number of HIV/AIDS orphans is growing year to year, the press release runs.

Central and West Africa has over 20 million orphans, including 4.2 million whose parents died of AIDS, said speakers at a recent conference on the assistance to HIV-infected children.

Only 1.3% of HIV-infected pregnant women received anti-viral preparations, which considerably reduce the risk of the infection of the future babies, last year. Consequentially, 220,000 babies contracted the disease in Central and West Africa in 2005.

Children are the concealed image of the pan-epidemic, even in those countries where the HIV/AIDS rate is not very large, because they frequently do not have an access to medical aid and preparations, the press release runs. Up till now, children are not a primary target of the HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs.

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