UN: UNAIDS, PEPFAR announce decline in new HIV infections among children in Africa

New York, US (PANA) - The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the US
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) on Wednesday in New York,
said there has been a 60 per cent decline in new HIV infections among children
since 2009 in 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have been most affected
by the epidemic.

UNAIDS and PEPFAR said new HIV infections among children in the 21 countries
dropped from 270,000 (230,000-330,000) in 2009 to 110,000 (78,000-150,000) in

The results were published in a new report, entitled: "On the Fast-Track to an
AIDS-free generation", which was launched at the ongoing UN General Assembly
High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, holding from 8 to 10 June.

"Equally impressive are gains made in bridging the treatment gap among children.
In 2005, fewer than one in 10 children had access to anti-retroviral treatment, and
this gap has now been reduced to one in two. In the past five years alone,
treatment scale-up for children grew twofold.The impact is that AIDS-related
deaths among children were reduced by 44 per cent," they noted.

The report said that major successes have also been seen in increasing access
to treatment for children living with HIV in the 21 countries: access has
increased more than threefold since 2009 from 15 per cent in 2009 to 51 per cent
in 2015.

"However, this is still only half of all children in need of treatment, and major
efforts are required to ensure that all children born to HIV-positive mothers are
tested for HIV within the first two months of life.

"Without immediate access to treatment, around 30 per cent of children living
with HIV will die within the first year of life and more than 50 per cent will die
before they reach their fifth birthday," it stated.

During the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS in 2011, UNAIDS and PEPFAR
joined with partners to launch the Global Plan towards the elimination new HIV
infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.

The focus of the Global Plan was to increase efforts to prevent new HIV
infections in all countries, but particularly in the 22 countries that, in 2009,
accounted for 90 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV.

In that regard, the new report said progress has been made since the Global
Plan was launched, with seven countries having reduced new HIV infections
among children by more than 70 per cent since 2009 (the baseline for the
Global Plan).

They are Uganda, by 86 per cent, South Africa and Burundi, by 84 per cent,
Swaziland, by 80 per cent, Namibia, by 79 per cent, Mozambique, by 75 per
cent, and Malawi, by 71 per cent.

"In Nigeria, however, the decline was much smaller, at just 21 per cent. In
India, the only Global Plan country outside of sub-Saharan Africa, new HIV
infections in children dropped by 44 per cent and coverage of services to
pregnant women increased from less than 4 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent
in 2015," the report disclosed.

It also demonstrated that treatment or prophylaxis, excluding the
less-effective single-dose nevirapine, and coverage for pregnant women
living with HIV in the countries most affected by the epidemic increased
dramatically from 2009.

It said: "By 2015, more than 80 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV
in the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had access to medicines to
prevent transmission of the virus to their child, up from just 36 per cent,
excluding the less-effective single-dose nevirapine in 2009."

The report said that the World Health Organization (WHO) had recommended
that all pregnant women living with HIV should be offered lifelong HIV
treatment, extending beyond Option B+ to include all women diagnosed
with HIV regardless of pregnancy.

By 2015, all of the Global Plan countries, with the exception of Nigeria,
were routinely offering lifelong HIV treatment to all pregnant women living
with HIV. The massive scale-up of treatment has helped to reduce
AIDS-related deaths among women of reproductive age, which declined
by 43 per cent between 2009 and 2015.  

The report also stated that six countries, namely Botswana, Mozambique,
Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda met the Global Plan goal of
ensuring that 90 per cent or more of pregnant women living with HIV had
access to life-saving anti-retroviral medicines.

Six additional countries provided anti-retroviral medicines to more than 80 per
cent of pregnant women living with HIV, and they are Burundi, Cameroon, Malawi,
Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

At the launch of the report, UNAIDS, PEPFAR and partners also launched
a Super Fast-Track framework for ending AIDS among children,
adolescents and young women, tagged: "Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS-Free."

The initiative will build on the progress already made to Fast-Track action
to end the AIDS epidemic and sets ambitious targets to eliminate new
infections among children, find and ensure access to treatment for all
children living with HIV and prevent new HIV infections among
adolescents and young women.

The Global Plan also aspired to reduce new HIV infections among
women of reproductive age by 50 per cent. The actual decline was just
5 per cent well below the target.

"This suggests that women, including young women, continue to be
left behind and are not being reached with HIV prevention services.
Between 2009 and 2015, around 4.5 million (3.8 million-5.4 million)
women became newly infected with HIV in the 21 priority countries in
sub-Saharan Africa, and AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading
cause of death among adolescents on the continent."

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe stated: "These astounding
results show that the world is on the Fast-Track to eliminating new
HIV infections among children and ensuring that their mothers are
alive and healthy.

"It is beautiful to know that we could soon have a new generation
free from HIV."

On her part, Ms. Deborah Birx, US Global AIDS Coordinator and the
Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, said: "This
shows what is possible through the combined power of science,
communities and focused action.

"PEPFAR is building on this success, driving harder and smarter to
prevent HIV infections and end AIDS among children, adolescents
and young women through our 'DREAMS Partnership', 'Accelerating
Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment' initiative and other efforts."

UNAIDS said that, global data for children that showed that new HIV
infections among children have declined globally by 50 per cent since
2010, down from 290,000 in 2010 to 150,000 in 2015.

It also said that 49 per cent of children living with HIV around the
world now have access to life-saving treatment.

UNAIDS and partners said that Armenia, Belarus and Thailand have
joined Cuba in receiving official certificates of validation from the
World Health Organization for eliminating new HIV infections among

It said that Thailand was the first country with a major HIV epidemic
(450,000 people living with HIV in 2014) to receive such a validation.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  8June2016

08 juin 2016 17:55:11

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