14 Apr 2009

Unicef knitting project to boost HIV campaign

1:43 pm on 14 April 2009

Unicef in New Zealand is encouraging people to pick up knitting needles in a bid to raise awareness of mother to child transmission of HIV.

The Unite for Mothers campaign is hoping to make a baby blanket, with 1,400 squares, to present to MPs on Mothers Day in May.

Without treatment, about 15-30 per cent of babies born to HIV positive women will become infected with HIV during pregnancy and delivery, and a further 5-20 per cent will become infected through breastfeeding.

Sarah Morris, Unicef New Zealand's international advocacy manager, says 1,400 children are infected with HIV every day, and in Papua New Guinea, the prevalence of HIV is nearing two percent of the population.

"It's kind of off the scale, really, and it's a huge issue because people live in quite remote areas so the ability for people to go and be tested, or access treatment is very difficult. There are also a lot of problems in PNG with violence against women with people having multiple partners. So it's a huge problem."

Sarah Morris, from Unicef NZ.