Big Drop in Pediatric HIV Infections
Last week, UNAIDS announced that seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa have dramatically reduced their rates of new pediatric HIV infections by 50 percent since 2009. These dramatic reductions were recorded in Malawi and Zambia, where EGPAF supports local health ministries; as well as in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Namibia, and South Africa.
The decline in new infections is due to the increased availability of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and HIV/AIDS care and treatment services. The hope is that the continued rollout of Option B+ will continue to decrease the rate of new infections and drive progress toward a generation free of HIV/AIDS.
“The progress in the majority of countries is a strong signal that with focused efforts every child can be born free from HIV,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
US Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby echoed Sidibé with a call to action.
“We have the tools required to reach the Global Plan’s goals, and recent data show that we are moving ever closer to their realization,” he said. “Now, we must all continue working together to see the day when no children are born with HIV, which is within our reach.”
In Malawi, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) supports more than 50 percent of all PMTCT services available. Since 2001, we have provided nearly 500,000 women with HIV testing and more than 600,000 women with PMTCT services.
In Zambia, EGPAF currently provides technical assistance and capacity-building assistance to the Zambian Ministry of Health. Prior to transitioning our Project Heart services to local affiliates, EGPAF supported 349 sites throughout the country.
The Global Plan calls for a 90 percent reduction in the number of new pediatric HIV infections and a 50 percent reduction in the number of HIV/AIDS-related maternal deaths by 2015. The plan focuses on driving infections down in the 22 countries that account for nearly 90 percent of new pediatric HIV infections.
Chelsea Bailey is Communications Assistant for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.