July 20, 2015

Preventing New HIV Infections, Saving Lives

Written by Amb. Deborah L. Birx, Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post here.

Globally, fewer children are being newly infected with HIV than ever before. This is according to data released earlier this week by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in its new report How AIDS changed everything–MDG 6: 15 years, 15 lessons of hope from the AIDS response.

UNAIDS estimates that, in 2014, 174,000 children were newly infected with HIV across the 21 priority countries of the Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children and Keeping their Mothers Alive (Global Plan). This represents a 48 percent reduction in new infections among children since 2009 (the baseline year for the Global Plan) across countries that still account for nearly 80 percent of all new HIV infections among children worldwide. This is an impressive achievement, which should be widely celebrated. Yet, as a global community, we are not on track to reach the Global Plan’s goal of a 90 percent reduction by the end of 2015.

In 2011, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNAIDS joined forces to launch the Global Plan in order to accelerate efforts toward eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and expanding access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) for mothers and children. In many countries, the Global Plan has helped to do just that. Based on the latest data, six priority countries — Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda — have achieved a greater than 60 percent reduction in new HIV infections among children since 2009. Elsewhere, there have been gains, but progress has been much slower. Seven priority countries — Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Nigeria — reduced new infections among children by 30 percent or less since 2009.

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