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Health: HIV/AIDS

Volume 704: debated on Tuesday 7 October 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How street children will benefit from the updated HIV/AIDS strategy in the light of the fact that the £200 million social protection programmes will focus on households. [HL5017]

The UK Government's updated seven-year AIDS strategy, Achieving Universal Access—the UK's strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world, continues to give priority to the needs and rights of children affected by HIV/AIDS. Social protection programmes, including cash transfers, have been shown to be highly effective in reaching children affected by AIDS and promoting their access to basic services. This approach was endorsed at the recent International AIDS Conference in Mexico.

Through support for broadly defined social protection programmes, the Government are also tackling the wider issues that make children affected by AIDS vulnerable to exploitation and abuse or at risk of ending up on the street. Predictable, regular cash transfers to households looking after children affected by AIDS are part of this response and can be a simple and cost-effective way to ensure children stay in a family environment and get the protection, nutrition, education and health care they need.

The Department for International Development (DfID) has been working closely with UN agencies and NGOs to develop guidance on social protection for vulnerable children in the context of HIV and AIDS. This guidance recognises that many children, such as street children, may live outside the family environment and therefore also require appropriate legislation and child protection services to detect neglect, exploitation and abuse and where possible support family reunification. Our increased funding for social protection, including support for underfunded social welfare ministries, will help strengthen these services.

In addition, we are supporting the International Harm Reduction Association's (IHRA) international youth network on harm reduction, to help ensure issues related to street children, young people and drug use are highlighted in international fora.

The UK Government are committed to review the social protection programmes they support, in terms of how well they respond to the needs of children affected by HIV and AIDS, on a biannual basis, to ensure that the approach is effective in reaching the most vulnerable, including those children living outside the family environment.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the categories of “orphans and vulnerable children” and “children affected by AIDS” in the updated HIV/AIDS strategy do not refer to street children's lives; and how that strategy will ensure that the needs of street children form a part of national plans of action. [HL5018]

“Orphans and vulnerable children” (OVC), and “children affected by AIDS” (CABA) are accepted and internationally recognised terms that encompass all aspects of vulnerability to and from AIDS, and includes street children.

Many national plans of action are already prioritising street children. For example, in Zimbabwe, DfID's programme of support is going to reach organisations such as Streets Ahead who are providing health, educational and psychosocial support for vulnerable children and children living on the street.

The UK Government are the second largest donor to UNICEF and provided £105 million to support the work of the organisation in 2006. This encompasses action in 13 African countries where UNICEF is actively supporting national plans for orphans and vulnerable children. These plans will ensure vulnerable children, including street children, access basic services and are protected from abuse. UNICEF also supports direct help for street children affected by AIDS. For example in Haiti, UNICEF advocates for and supports a package of services to 1,500 street children in Port-au-Prince including medical care, counselling, prevention, treatment and vocational training services.

A copy of the updated strategy Achieving Universal Access—the UK's strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world and the supporting evidence paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These are also available on the DfID website at

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures will be taken to ensure that street children gain access to HIV/AIDS treatment services and benefit from out-of-school prevention programmes. [HL5019]

The UK Government support comprehensive education and HIV and AIDS strategies within national plans. These include prevention programmes that target in and out-of-school children, including street children.

The updated AIDS strategy recognises the importance of non-school-based prevention programmes for out-of-school children, and encourages Governments to work with civil society organisations to reach the most excluded out-of-school children, including street children.

The Department for International Development's (DfID) bilateral programmes aim to serve street children and other out-of-school children to benefit from service provision and information.

In Kyrgyzstan, for example, DfID supports prevention and rehabilitation services for street children. The programme works with street children on issues including personal health, awareness of protection from exploitative practices, HIV and AIDS, the dangers of drug abuse and life skills. In Burma, DfID is contributing £450,000 to the street and working children programme, which includes HIV and AIDS education.

Access to HIV and AIDS treatment remains poor for all children. Achieving universal access therefore commits DfID to increase its support to £200 million for social protection programmes and to provide £6 billion on strengthening integrated health systems and services over seven years to 2015. Stronger health systems are critical to scaling up the response to AIDS and achieving universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support including to marginalised groups such as street children.