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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - UNICEF to Work With a Private Group to Fight AIDS

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Baby girl infected with H-I-V in India
Baby girl infected with H-I-V in India

UNICEF is joining with a nonprofit group to bring H.I.V./AIDS programs to more women and children in five countries. UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, will work with Family Health International. The new partnership will be established at first in Guyana, India, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia.

One of the goals is to improve care for babies infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Another is to prevent the spread of H.I.V. from mother to child.

Activities will depend on the needs of each country. In some cases, anti-retroviral drugs will be provided to infected parents of children. Women and children living in rural communities will receive most of the services.

Steve Taravella is the head of communications for Family Health International. He says the partnership is separate from UNICEF's international campaign against AIDS but will support the goals of the U.N. agency.

Both UNICEF and Family Health International say they hope to expand their partnership into more countries in the future.

Family Health International has been working on public health issues since nineteen seventy-one. The organization is based in North Carolina and has programs in seventy countries.

It does research on infections diseases and reproductive health, and also provides services. More than half of its yearly budget of about two hundred forty million dollars comes from the United States government.

Experts say an important part of fighting AIDS is political will. One example they point to is Cambodia. That country has been getting attention for its progress in reducing some of the highest infection rates in Asia.

Experts praise the government for supporting public education efforts and programs to give condoms to sex workers. Prostitutes are taught to enforce a policy of "one hundred percent condom use" at sex businesses.

But there are warnings that H.I.V. rates could still rise among men who have sex with men and among users of injection drugs. Rates could also rise among so-called indirect sex workers -- women who work in bars and clubs.

Today about eighty percent of all people infected with H.I.V. in Cambodia receive life-saving drugs for free.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. You can learn more about H.I.V. and AIDS at www.unsv.com.

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