On World AIDS Day: More pregnant women and children must get treatment
NEW DELHI, 1 Dec 2012 – New HIV infections in children are down, but reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires that more HIV positive pregnant women receive antiretroviral treatment to decrease the risk of infection for their babies, UNICEF said today.
Thanks to remarkable global commitment, the world has seen a 24 per cent reduction in new HIV infections in children – from 430,000 in 2009 to 330,000 in 2011. In India over 14,000 children got infected in 2011, with a 13 per cent decline from 2009. The number of estimated deaths among children (0-14 years old) due to AIDS was 10,213 in 2011.
The total number of people living with HIV in the country has seen a decline from approximately 2.3 million to 2.1 million. The drop has been much higher among men (16 per cent) than among women (2.6 per cent).
Much progress has been made in the field of treatment. In low and middle income countries, coverage of effective antiretroviral treatment for preventing mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) reached 57 per cent in 2011. In India, the coverage has increased over the years but using a single dose of Nevirapine since the more effective treatment used globally, as per guidelines provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) for prevention of MTCT, is still to be scaled up nationwide.
Regarding access to treatment of children in need, it increased from 6 per cent in 2006, when the Paediatric HIV programme was launched in India, to 34 per cent in 2011.
“It is simply wrong that adults are twice as likely as children to receive the treatment they need,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “By definition, an AIDS-free generation depends on protecting the youngest and most vulnerable from HIV infection. We must do still more to help mothers and children who live with HIV be able to live free from AIDS. We must rededicate ourselves to boosting the number of pregnant women and children being tested and treated through basic antenatal and child health programmes.”
“UNICEF India will continue to focus on preventing parent to child transmission and eliminating new HIV infections among children. Treating HIV-positive pregnant women not only keeps them alive and well, but prevents babies from acquiring HIV during pregnancy, delivery and the breastfeeding period,” stated Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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