What We're Reading: How to Achieve an AIDS-Free Generation
November 22, 2011
In the past two weeks, we’ve been reading about several ways to end pediatric AIDS.
First, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined a new plan to create an AIDS-free generation
, calling it “one of the greatest gifts the U.S. could give to our collective future.”
She highlighted prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) as a vital first step to ensure that no child is born with HIV.
Building on Clinton’s announcement, Foundation President Chip Lyons published an op-ed in the Huffington Post
calling on political leaders and the global community to end new pediatric HIV infections:
“Around the world, millions of mothers are still fighting to get our attention, and to give their children a chance at an HIV-free future. We need to make their fight our fight, and finish the job of ending pediatric AIDS and building an AIDS-free generation.”
Now the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
has released a report outlining what it will take to do just that.
Last week, its Global Health Policy Center
published “Scaling Up Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: What Will It Take?”
as a series of recommendations for the U.S. on how to accelerate the expansion of PMTCT programs. The report describes the clear benefits that can be gained from this smart global health investment:
“PMTCT can significantly reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality, move countries closer to Millennium Development Goals 4, 5, and 6 and bring substantial long-term cost savings due to averted HIV infections and fewer orphaned children.”
The report also highlights the U.S.’s crucial role in expanding PMTCT programs through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR)
, and maintaining recent global momentum, such as the new UN-sponsored Global Plan Towards Elimination of New Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive
CSIS recommends six programmatic areas where the U.S. can focus its efforts to address key challenges in expanding PMTCT services, including:
• Fully funding integration of maternal, newborn, and child health services with HIV and family planning programming
• Revisiting U.S. policy on the procurement of contraceptives through PEFPAR
• Moving PMTCT services closer to communities, reducing wait times for test results and facilitating patient follow-up
• Addressing financial barriers to women accessing PMTCT services
• Insisting on accountability for the success of global PMTCT efforts
• Implementing more effective PMTCT regimens recommended by the WHO
Because of the current fiscal environment, the report advises U.S. policymakers to maintain the current momentum by accelerating PMTCT scale-up in countries where dramatic gains are possible, and supporting incremental progress in other countries where challenges still remain.
It calls on the U.S. to leverage all of its diplomatic, programmatic, and financial tools to lead the global community to our ultimate goal – the worldwide elimination of pediatric HIV and AIDS.
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer based in Washington, D.C.