New York — New HIV infections in children are down, but reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires treating more pregnant women and children living with HIV, UNICEF said today.
Thanks to remarkable global commitment, the world has seen a 24 per cent reduction in new HIV infections in children - from 430,000 in 2009 to 330,000 in 2011.
And, as of December 2011, over 100,000 more children were receiving antiretroviral treatment compared to 2010.
But less than one-third of children and pregnant women are receiving the treatment they need, as opposed to the global average of 54 per cent for adults overall.
"It is simply wrong that adults are twice as likely as children to receive the treatment they need," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "By definition, an AIDS-free generation depends on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable from HIV infection. We must do still more to help mothers and children who live with HIV be able to live free from AIDS. We must rededicate ourselves to boosting the number of pregnant women and children being tested and treated through basic antenatal and child health programmes."
Treating HIV-positive pregnant women not only keeps them alive and well, but prevents babies from acquiring HIV during pregnancy, delivery and the breastfeeding period. Treatment can also prevent sexual transmission from an HIV-positive woman to an HIV-negative partner.
Working to end new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive is a key element of UNICEF's overall commitment to child survival under the global movement, "A Promise Renewed."