’Getting to Zero’: 2.5 Million Children Infected with HIV as World AIDS Day Marked Globally
Save the Children Calls for Improved Care and Prevention of New Infections
As we mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Save the Children remembers the millions of lives lost, and reaffirms its commitment to preventing HIV transmission and AIDS-related death. With more than 2.5 million children infected with the virus, according to UNAIDS, it is critical we work to improve care and treatment, while preventing more children from contracting it.
The global theme of World AIDS Day – ’Getting to Zero’ – stands for zero new infections, zero AIDS-related death, and zero discrimination.
“An AIDS-free generation is no longer a dream. However, to achieve it, we cannot continue business as usual. Working together in a coordinated global effort guided by science, we must strive to protect children from HIV infection – from when they are yet unborn, through birth to adolescence. Furthermore, we must also keep children who are living with HIV free from AIDS,” said Dr. Kechi Achebe, Save the Children’s senior director for HIV/AIDS.
Remarkable progress has been made in combatting this deadly disease, but the spread of HIV/AIDS remains a challenge. Save the Children joins governments, including the U.S. government, bilateral agencies and non-governmental organizations, in supporting efforts to prevent and stop the spread of the disease, and supports expanded care and treatment efforts.
In June 2011, United Nations member states committed to a global plan for eliminating new HIV infections in children and keeping their mothers alive, as well as eliminating pediatric deaths from HIV and AIDS by 2015. However, the primary focus has been on prevention of maternal-to-child transmission (PMTCT). Early infant diagnosis and pediatric treatment for those children who will acquire HIV – and the more than 2.5 million children who are already living with HIV – has been neglected.
Studies have shown that children who receive antiretroviral therapy in their first day of life are less likely to contract the virus, yet an estimated 34 percent of infants exposed to HIV don’t receive follow-up care, despite WHO guidelines calling for 100 percent treatment for all infected children under the age of 5.
Although prevention of new infections must remain a priority, we must strengthen efforts to improve care and treatment for those currently living with HIV – and those at risk of new infection.
Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. http://www.savethechildren.org
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