Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

By Chelsea Bailey | June 23, 2014

Ariel Glaser blows out candles on her birthday cake as her brother watches. EGPAF joins the global health community in working toward a future where every child can celebrate his or her 5th birthday.

EGPAF

Ariel Glaser lost her battle with AIDS just days after her seventh birthday. Though her life was cut tragically short, her untimely death led her mother, Elizabeth, to put in motion an international effort to ensure that children living with HIV around the world could celebrate a lifetime of birthdays. 

At the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) we honor that legacy and look forward to the day when no child has AIDS. But today, we pause to celebrate the achievements we’ve made thanks to the United States’ historic global leadership for healthy children.  

Since 1990, U.S. foreign assistance programs have helped dramatically reduce the number of annual deaths in children under five by more than half. Not only are fewer children dying from diseases like pneumonia, measles, malaria, and AIDS, but fewer people are newly infected. This is due, in large part, to U.S.-funded programs that promote care, treatment, and prevention efforts to combat these diseases.

But perhaps one of the most powerful testaments to the United States' commitment to promoting the global health of children has been its efforts to curb pediatric AIDS.

Thanks to strong and steady leadership from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the world has made remarkable gains in eliminating new pediatric HIV infections – more than 1 million babies have been born HIV-free because of PEPFAR-supported programs around the world. Through the generous support of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and PEPFAR, EGPAF has reached 20 million women with services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

But even as we celebrate these achievements, we recognize that there is still so much more work to be done.

Children living with HIV continue to lag dramatically behind adults when it comes to treatment initiation and retention.  A mere one third of children eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) are currently receiving treatment. This is a matter of life and death. Without treatment, half of children born with HIV will die by the age of two, and 80 percent will die by the age of five.

Every child deserves a chance to celebrate their 5th birthday and the many more that follow. The United States’ continued global leadership is crucial to ensuring that the millions of children living with HIV and AIDS receive the medicines they need to survive and thrive – until no child has AIDS

To learn more about the United States’ historic commitment to children around the world, visit www.5thbdayandbeyond.org.