Joining a Mother's Fight to End AIDS in Children
*Originally posted on Huffington Post
Today at Davos, a new ally joined mothers around the world fighting to ensure that their babies are protected from the ravages of HIV.
This year’s annual World Economic Forum witnessed the launch of a group dedicated to ending pediatric AIDS – the Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born Free of HIV.
The Business Leadership Council is comprised of representatives from diverse industries and countries, but all committed to the same ambitious goal: ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
They’ve formed to promote and help fund the first-ever global plan to eliminate new pediatric HIV infections
– which was launched last year at the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS – and is being led by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby.
As President of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF)
, I was proud to represent one of the several organizations on the team that developed this historic plan, and that now serves on the steering group to guide its implementation.
Through our work, we have witnessed the power of motherhood
time and time again, in clinics and villages throughout the world. A mother will do anything to keep her baby safe from HIV.
Inspired by this drive, and the tenacity of our founder Elizabeth Glaser, we’ve launched a complementary initiative to help fuel the success of the global plan to end pediatric AIDS.
We call it “A Mother’s Fight.”
This site showcases the Foundation’s stories and lessons learned as one of the largest providers of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in sub-Saharan Africa. The past decade of programmatic experience
has shown us that it is possible to eliminate pediatric AIDS globally.
Sabina and her husband Patrick are both HIV-positive, but because of the PMTCT services Sabina was able to access at her clinic in Tanzania, their son Betton is HIV-free and healthy. (Photo: James Pursey/EGPAF)
We’ve done it in the developed world, and recent experiences in countries such as Botswana and Rwanda have shown that it is possible in resource-poor countries as well. Now governments and civil society are coalescing around what is increasingly understood as an achievable goal.
Since the introduction of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria ten years ago, and the subsequent launch of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), public-private partnerships have been a crucial part of this global progress on fighting pediatric AIDS.
Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, ViiV Healthcare, Disney, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and MAC Cosmetics have helped lead the way in supporting scale-up of HIV prevention and treatment services in the developing world.
Today, members of this new Business Leadership Council – including Apax Partners, Apria Healthcare Group, Jetro, McKinsey & Company, NBCUniversal, and WPP – have now joined the fight. They are sounding a clear and loud countdown to achieving zero HIV infections in children by the end of 2015.
Over the next 48 months, they’ll be leading a much-needed awareness campaign to bring increased political commitment and monetary muscle to this fight. Too many people in the U.S. and around the world still don’t know that with timely intervention, an HIV-positive mother can give birth to an HIV-negative baby almost 100 percent of the time.
Through PEPFAR, we’ve seen firsthand what can be achieved by coordinated action from the private sector, international organizations, national governments, and local communities to fight pediatric AIDS.
The number of new HIV infections in children – 90% of which occur in sub-Saharan Africa – has been cut in half through widespread implementation of PMTCT. Millions of mothers have received lifesaving treatment, allowing them to stay healthy enough to raise their children and plan for their families’ futures.
We’ve come a long way in this fight, but we can’t slow down now.
Just under half of HIV-positive pregnant women have access to PMTCT services, and there are still 1,000 children infected with HV every day.
We have long had the medicines and know-how to prevent each one of these infections – now we have the momentum.
We’ll be working tirelessly alongside the Business Leadership Council and countless other partners to finish this important work. We won’t stop until we reach every mother with the knowledge, services, and opportunities to protect her children from HIV.
But we also need your help. Join us in this mission, and make a mother’s fight your fight. Visit www.amothersfight.org
to find out how.
Charles Lyons is the President and CEO of the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.