What We're Reading: Calling All Partners to Eliminate Pediatric AIDS
June 21, 2011
On the heels of the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis, we’ve been reading about a new international call to eliminate HIV in one entire segment of the population: infants and young children.
As part of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS
, which took place June 8-10 in New York, the international community adopted several new ambitious targets. Countries pledged to reduce HIV infections through sexual transmission and drug use by half, and to more than double the number of people on treatment.
Cover of UNAIDS new global action plan
aimed at ending all new HIV infections in
infants by 2015. (Photo: UNAIDS)
And more dramatically, a global action plan
was released to end all new HIV infections in infants by 2015, as well keep their mothers alive and healthy.
Produced by a Global Task Team led by UNAIDS
and the U.S. Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator
, the plan has been endorsed by 30 governments and 50 civil society organizations, international bodies, and other partners.
Voice of America
reported on the details of the Global Plan, noting that it aims to provide HIV prevention and care and treatment to the women and children who need it most. The plan also seeks to improve integration between HIV/AIDS and other important maternal and child health services.
As a member of the Global Task Team, the Foundation released a statement
affirming this renewed commitment to ending pediatric AIDS. In partnership with the group FHI, the Foundation also highlighted U.S. leadership on this issue in the legislative papers Roll Call
and Congressional Quarterly
In Washington, two Congressional champions both issued their own statements about the importance of continued U.S. leadership to prevent and treat HIV globally.
U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) commended the new targets
introduced at the UN, particularly the one “to once and for all eliminate mother to child transmission of the virus.”
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY)
drew attention to the fact that “1,000 babies are still infected with HIV around the world each day,” noting that the situation “is deplorable when we have the tools and medicines to end pediatric AIDS.”
Foundation ad as it appeared in Congressional Quarterly and
According to Reuters
, an additional $2.5 billion is needed to reduce the number of HIV infections in children by 90 percent and eliminate pediatric AIDS by 2015. Currently, the international community spends only $500 million on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV per year.
At the UN, several First Ladies
from around the world – including Africa, Asia, and Latin America – also announced their support for eliminating pediatric AIDS and improving maternal and child health. Some proposals included free medical care for mothers and children, including services to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to their infants, as one way to achieve this.
also announced his continued support for HIV/AIDS programs and urged other countries, governments, and partners to do more in the fight against AIDS. The U.S. plans to contribute an additional $75 million to support programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Several other companies and foundations also pledged their support: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $40 million to the cause, while the Chevron Corporation and Johnson & Johnson pledged $20 million and $15 million respectively. (Click here to watch
Johnson & Johnson’s video about ending pediatric AIDS)
Financial commitments like those made by national governments, international institutions, private companies, and other partners are key to continuing the momentum and making the elimination of pediatric AIDS a reality.
In an editorial, The New York Times summed up
the opportunity that we find ourselves in – now thirty years into the global epidemic.
It declared that there is no excuse for backing off of the positive momentum of the past decade despite economic hardships, and that this is a “fight worth winning.”
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer for Africa, based in Washington, D.C.