Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence


  Article 6: The inherent right to life, and the State's obligation to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child and Article 3: In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration. It is in the best interests of the child to avoid HIV infection at all costs as it is fatal, and children who contract the virus will die early and often in an unpleasant and undignified way.

  Article 29: State parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to (a) the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential; (b) the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and Article 17: State Parties..shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health . . . To ensure children are not vulnerable to HIV infection it is important to deal with the root causes of the HIV problem which are located in poverty—both micro and macro-economic, social deprivation, cultural attitudes and behaviour, conflict and war, and lack of political and legal commitment. To address these issues is a long and ongoing developmental process. In the interim, it is crucial to protect children from HIV/AIDS by providing them with accurate information and preventive means to ensure that they do not contract the virus. This is their right and this is the responsibility of States, community and parents.

  Article 12: State parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child . . . The most effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care occurs when children are involved in interventions from the early stages with their views and opinions being used and respected.

  Article 19: State parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s), or any other . . . Many young children and people contract the HIV virus from adults through non-consensual sex and through sexual exploitation. Adult and peer behaviour can increase children's vulnerability to the virus in certain social situations. A number of children are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS as they are marginalised and lack the general care and support of society. These children are often vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS. In many cases children in institutions, including family, are sexually abused, vulnerable to AIDS and unsupported. Special protection measures need to be set up by States to support such children.

  Article 2: State parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind . . . Today in many countries of the world children are socially and economically excluded from HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Children are discriminated against for sexual behaviour and attempting to gain access to the means to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS. Children are stigmatised and marginalised when living with the virus, when orphaned as a result of the virus, and when living in families affected by the virus. Especially vulnerable children are discriminated against by social exclusion, labelling and lack of services for prevention and care. Children are discriminated against when it is accepted that adults can access HIV/AIDS prevention and care but for a variety of reasons children cannot. As a result almost 20 years into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there is still a considerable struggle to put HIV/AIDS prevention and care on to the agenda of many states for children and young people.

  Article 24: State parties recognise the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health . . . Children in many parts of the world are unable to access treatment and care of HIV/AIDS. This is due to economic disparity between the North and the South, where expensive treatments cannot be afforded and are beyond the capacity of current health infrastructure. Equally, there is economic and social disparity within countries, where the most marginalised and poor will not be able to access treatment and care. In addition, the most effective care of children with HIV/AIDS occurs when children are involved and consulted and where their psychological and social needs are addressed in addition to their clinical health needs. This fact still lacks recognition with health policy makers and practitioners.

  Article 20: The child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the state. State shall in accordance with the national laws ensure alternative care for such a child . . . and

  Article 27: State parties shall recognise the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development..This is particularly important for the welfare and protection of children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, or other causes, where children are not treated equally, discriminated against, lose access to basic needs, education and health provision, and are sometimes institutionalised rather than cared for in the community as a result of their own, or family, HIV status.

Lyn Elliott

HIV/AIDS Policy Adviser

July 1999


  2.  UNAIDS, Global Epidemiological Report, 1997.

  3.  AIDS Action, Issue 25 June-August 1994, AHRTAG, London, England.

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