UN meeting must include older carers in HIV and AIDS response


Kufekisa Laugery Kufekisa Laugery from Zambia will speak out about older carers (c) UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development By Caroline Graham

HIV and AIDS come under the spotlight this month when key groups and decision makers gather at a UN High Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV.

The global talks are a significant event on the HIV and AIDS calendar and are being held in a milestone year for the epidemic  - the first case of AIDS was diagnosed 30 years ago on 5 June, 1981.

It has also been ten years since the groundbreaking UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV first met.

The 8 June meeting in New York will review the progress in responding to HIV and to agree future commitments.

HelpAge will attend in an effort to get older people included.

Our HIV and AIDS policy advisor Rachel Albone is due to be joined there by Kufekisa Laugery, a grandmother from Zambia who is caring for her family affected by HIV, and her 14-year-old grandson Minyoi.

Kufekisa, who is also chair of Senior Citizens Association of Zambia, will speak at a side event highlighting the issues she faces as a grandparent carer.

World must recognise older people are affected by HIV

Rachel said: "It is crucial that children and their families receive the support they need, and with 40-60% of orphaned children in east and southern Africa being looked after by their grandparents, any response must also recognise and support older carers.

"Increasing numbers of older people are now living with HIV. This trend is likely to continue as access to antiretroviral therapy means more people will live into older age. This UN High Level Meeting on HIV provides a vital opportunity to ensure people aged 50 and over are included.

"HelpAge will be calling on member states and the broader UN system to do just that. We will also be advocating for greater attention to care and support."

Crucial role of caregivers

Before the 8 June meeting, HelpAge will also attend the Global Partners Forum on Children affected by HIV and AIDS, a two-day event on 3 June, hosted by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

The meeting will discuss ensuring children remain a priority in the HIV response.

HelpAge is among organisations putting on a panel session on the role of community caregivers in caring for families affected by AIDS.

Kufekisa and Minyoi will also speak on this panel about what it means to be a family affected by HIV and how grandparents and grandchildren care for each other.

What next?

Useful links

Official website of UN High Level meeting

AIDS Consortium

The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance

Caregivers Action Network

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