AIDS-free Generation Is Possible, Says UN Report
Use of antiretroviral
drugs has dramatically reduced the rate of mother-to-child
HIV transmission worldwide, yet there is still
room for improvement according to a report by UN
agencies released to coincide with World AIDS Day.
In 2009, about half of HIV positive pregnant women
received prophylactic antiretrovirals, and an estimated
370,000 babies were born with HIV, mostly in Africa.
But perinantal transmission could be eliminated,
the report concluded, by expanding access to antiretroviral
therapy, especially for the most disadvantage groups
including young, poor, and rural women.
is the text of a joint press release from UNICEF, UNIADS,
the World Health Organization, and others summarizing the
The full Children and AIDS: Fifth Stocktaking Report 2010
An AIDS-free Generation is Achievable by Focusing on the
Most Disadvantaged Communities Affected by HIV, Says a New
U.N. Report Marking World AIDS Day
York, NY -- November 30, 2010 -- Achieving an AIDS-free generation
is possible if the international community steps up efforts
to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment,
and social protection, according to "Children and AIDS:
Fifth Stocktaking Report 2010," which was released today
in New York. Attaining this goal, however, depends on reaching
the most marginalized members of society.
While children in general have benefited enormously from the
substantial progress made in the AIDS responses, there are
millions of women and children who have fallen through the
cracks due to inequities rooted in gender, economic status,
geographical location, education level and social status.
Lifting these barriers is crucial to universal access to knowledge,
care, protection, and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission
(PMTCT) for all women and children.
"To achieve an AIDS-free generation we need to do more
to reach the hardest hit communities. Every day, nearly 1000
babies in sub-Sarahan Africa are infected with HIV through
mother to child transmission," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF's
Executive Director. "Our Fifth Stocktaking Report on
Children and AIDS highlights innovations like the Mother Baby
Pack that can bring life-saving ARV treatment to more mothers
and their babies than ever before," said Lake.
The World Health Organization (WHO) revised its guidelines
earlier this year, to ensure quality PMTCT services for HIV-positive
pregnant women and their infants. In low- and middle-income
countries, 53 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV received
antiretrovirals (ARVs) to prevent mother-to-child transmission
in 2009, compared to 45 per cent in 2008. One of the most
significant increases occurred in Eastern and Southern Africa,
where the proportion jumped ten percentage points, from 58
in 2008 to 68 per cent in 2009.
"We have strong evidence that elimination of mother-to-child
transmission is achievable," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's
Director-General. "Achieving the goal will require much
better prevention among women and mothers in the first place."
AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death among women
of reproductive age globally and a major cause of maternal
mortality in countries with generalized epidemics. In sub-Saharan
Africa, 9 per cent of maternal mortality is attributable to
HIV and AIDS.
"Around 370,000 children are born with HIV each year.
Each one of these infections is preventable," said Michel
Sidibe, Executive Director, UNAIDS. "We have to stop
mothers from dying and babies from becoming infected with
HIV. That is why I have called for the virtual elimination
of mother to child transmission by 2015."
WHO also issued new ARV guidelines for treating infants and
children, paving the way for many more children with HIV to
be eligible for immediate antiretroviral treatment (ART).
In low and middle-income countries, the number of children
under the age of 15 who received treatment rose from 275,300
in 2008 to 356,400 in 2009. This increase means that 28 per
cent of the 1.27 million children estimated to be in need
of ART receive it.
Infants are particularly vulnerable to the effects of HIV,
which has lent an urgency to the global campaign for early
infant diagnosis. While the availability of early infant diagnosis
services has increased dramatically in many countries, global
coverage still remains low, at only 6 per cent in 2009. Without
treatment, about half of the infants infected with HIV die
before their second birthday.
In most parts of the world, new HIV infections are steadily
falling or stabilizing. In 2001, an estimated 5.7 million
young people aged 15-24 were living with HIV. At the end of
2009, that number fell to 5 million. However, in nine countries
-- all of them in southern Africa -- at least 1 in 20 young
people is living with HIV.
Young women still shoulder the greater burden of infection,
and in many countries women face their greatest risk of infection
before age 25. Worldwide, more than 60 per cent of all young
people living with HIV are female. In sub-Saharan Africa,
that figure is nearly 70 per cent.
"We need to address gender inequalities, including those
that place women and girls at disproportionate risk to HIV
and other adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes,"
said Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO. "While
we are encouraged by a decline in HIV incidence among young
people of more than 25 per cent in 15 key countries in sub-Saharan
Africa between 2001 and 2009, we must do everything possible
to sustain and increase such positive trends in order to achieve
Universal Access to prevention, treatment, care and support."
Adolescents are still becoming infected with HIV because they
have neither the knowledge nor the access to services to protect
themselves. Attaining an AIDS-free generation means erasing
the inequities that fuel the epidemic and protecting those
who continue to fall through the cracks. Social protection
initiatives -- including cash transfers and efforts to promote
access to services -- play an important role in breaking the
cycle of vulnerability. The report also emphasizes the importance
of tailoring education programs to target the most vulnerable
-- those who are out of school -- with information about HIV
"We must increase investments in young people's education
and health, including sexual and reproductive health, to prevent
HIV infections and advance social protection," said Thoraya
Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations
Population Fund. "Reaching marginalized young people,
including vulnerable adolescent girls and those who are not
in school, must remain a priority."
UNAIDS, World Health Organization, and others. Children and
AIDS: Fifth Stocktaking Report 2010. Available
UNICEF. An AIDS-free Generation is Achievable by Focusing
on the Most Disadvantaged Communities Affected by HIV, Says
a New U.N. Report Marking World AIDS Day. Press release. November