A Step Closer to AIDS-Free Generation
NEW DELHI, India, 6 September 2009 - According to a new joint report from UNICEF,WHO and UNAIDS, the world is now closer than ever to its goal of the virtual elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and a step closer to realising an AIDS-free generation.
Key points on the status of the epidemic among women and children in India from the 2009 report, “Towards Universal Access: Scaling Up Priority HIV/AIDS Interventions in the Health Sector”:
• Some of the most dramatic progress is in the prevention of parent-to-child transmission of HIV, known as PPTCT. The number of pregnant women receiving HIV testing and counseling is increasing. The 2008 figure for pregnant women who were tested for the virus is 16%, up from 14% in 2007.
• About 10,673 HIV positive pregnant women received antiretroviral drugs to prevent parent-to-child transmission in 2008 compared to 8,816 in 2007. It is estimated that 49,000 pregnant women living with HIV need antiretroviral for preventing parent-to-child-transmission. In the East, South and South-East Asia region, about 25% of HIV-positive pregnant women had access to antiretroviral drugs to prevent parent-to-child transmission in 2008, up from 24% in 2007.
• In 2008, 11,573 pregnant women living with HIV tested for CD4 count to determine whether they needed antiretroviral drugs for their own health. Not all women living with HIV require antiretroviral treatment, but as their infection progresses, their need for treatment increases. Treating mothers is critical to stopping the spread of the disease and halting the tremendous social impact created by their deaths.
• More countries are making a firm commitment to prevent parent-to-child transmission of HIV as an effective strategy against the epidemic. In 2008, 70 low- and middle-income countries developed a national plan to scale up PMTCT services with population based targets – more than double the 2005 figure of 34 countries. In India, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is firmly committed to halt and reverse the epidemic over the next five years by implementing the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) III.
• There has been a 13% increase in health facilities providing antiretroviral therapy to children. In 2008, 197 facilities were providing treatment to children living with HIV, compared to 174 facilities in 2007.
Despite remarkable gains in these and other areas, much work is still needed to reach the global target of universal access by 2010.
. Combination antiretroviral drug regimens are more effective in reducing parent-to-child transmission of HIV than one drug alone. In 2008, about 31% of HIV-positive pregnant women in 97 reporting countries, including India continued to receive single-dose drug regimens, compared to 49% in 2007.
The report recommends that national health services provide consistent and continuous care for women and children living with HIV. To ensure effective programmes, HIV services should be integrated into existing maternal and child health services in communities and facilities such as hospitals and clinics.
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