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HIV parade
© UNICEF EAPRO/2013/Andy Brown
HIV activists join a parade at the ICAAP 11 AIDS Congress in Bangkok, supported by UNICEF

In East Asia and the Pacific we have an opportunity to bring up a new generation free of HIV infection and AIDS. This must begin with children.

HIV infection in children occurs most often during pregnancy, labour or during breastfeeding. Without effective treatment, more than half of all babies born with HIV will die before their second birthday. The risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be reduced to 2 to 5 per cent through a combination of prevention measures that include antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the expectant mother and her new born child, and safe infant feeding. 

However, the estimated number of children living with HIV in the region has nearly doubled from 32,000 in 2000 to 62,000 in 2014.

Children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS are highly prone to exploitation. Many children experience physical harm such as sexual violence, as well as psychological harm from stigma and discrimination. Most of them struggle with limited access to education, health care, nutrition and social protection.

Adolescents who are out of school, often living in unsafe places and complex situations, are more vulnerable to the risks of HIV and AIDS. 

Greater attention to addressing HIV among children in the first and second decades of life is therefore critical to achieving an AIDS-free generation.  UNICEF supports governments and civil society in 16 countries in East Asia and the Pacific with HIV interventions, including the following.

Preventing transmission

Across the region, UNICEF works with partners to prevent and treat HIV infections among children and their mothers, to increase care and support for children orphaned by AIDS, and to reduce risks and vulnerability among adolescents.

We have played a critical role in strengthening national health and maternal and child health systems, in partnership with the World Health Organization to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
As a result, most countries have committed to elimination by 2020 and have switched to the simplest and most effective antiretroviral treatments. Thailand is close to becoming the first country in Asia-Pacific to achieving elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. China is committed to making strides towards achieving the elimination goal.   

UNICEF has supported many innovations in this area, including:

  • Same-day rapid HIV testing in Cambodia, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to ensure that people who get tested for HIV receive their results during the same visit.
  • Decentralized community testing in Myanmar and China to expand access to HIV testing services in hard to reach areas.
  • Novel technological methods for tracking women and babies beyond delivery and to retain them on HIV treatment and care in Papua New Guinea.


UNICEF and a broad coalition of partners are promoting “All In” - Ending HIV in adolescents, a platform to address the neglect of adolescents in the global AIDS response.
The first ever report “Adolescents under the radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS response” draws attention to the issues of vulnerable adolescents and what we can do to give them support they desperately need is now available.

UNICEF has developed tools and supported analysis that have helped bridge  knowledge gaps on adolescents who are most likely to be exposed to HIV or to transmit it.

The evidence generated through improved data collection and analysis in the Philippines has better informed programmes and services for adolescents/young key populations. Research on the use of social media to reach out to adolescents at risk with information on sexual health including HIV messaging and testing is being explored. 

Social protection

UNICEF-supported national and regional studies have contributed to the development of social protection for children affected by HIV and AIDS, particularly in ensuring their access to basic services including treatment for infected children, psycho-social care and reducing stigma and discrimination.

In China, UNICEF worked with the government to improve the response to communities affected by AIDS in five provinces, to increase the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, and to improve care and treatment services for people with HIV.

Caring for every child

UNICEF has played a key role in uniquely identifying each child through strengthening national health information systems in partnership with the AeHIN (Asia eHealth Information Network), World Health Organization, Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

UNICEF is supporting efforts in Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR to connect different data storehouses and to enable smooth information flow and sharing between them.





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