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For every child, end AIDS

The first decade of life

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2928/Nesbitt
UNICEF supports the expansion of PMTCT services into rural areas where many remote communities have limited access to health clinics.

The facts

In 2015,

  • 70% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV received antiretroviral drugs to prevent them from transmitting the virus to their babies, and for their own health1
  • Of the 1.8 million children under 15 living with HIV, only half are on treatment1
  • Globally, only half of HIV-exposed infants are tested for HIV by the recommended age of 2 months1
  • 150,000 children became newly infected with HIV worldwide, down from 290,000 in 2010 (a 48% decrease)2

1For Every Child, End AIDS: Seventh Stocktaking Report, 2016
2UNAIDS Fact Sheet November 2016


What is the response?

Ensuring that no baby is born with HIV is an essential step towards achieving an AIDS-free generation. An intervention known as “prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” or PMTCT, provides drugs, counselling, and psychological support to help mothers safeguard their infants against the virus. Providing PMTCT to all women is our most effective way to achieving an AIDS-free generation. As increasingly more pregnant women living with HIV receive access to antiretroviral treatment, fewer children are being newly infected with HIV.

Whether HIV-infected or not, children born to women living with HIV have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Factors such as poverty, isolation and distance from health care facilities can place them beyond the reach of life-saving care. Partners must also work together so that HIV exposed children are identified early and provided with follow-up treatment, care, and support throughout their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.


What is UNICEF doing?

By combining HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, UNICEF aims to reach more women, children, and adolescents, even in a rural clinic with no doctors.

For pregnant women, the first step is offering an HIV test that gives a rapid result in just a few minutes as part of the first visit for routine antenatal. Then, for women who test HIV positive, offering them treatment – “one pill, once per day” – starting as early as possible – is key. This approach puts the health of the mother at the centre. Preventive efforts, such as male circumcision, condom programming, strengthening of social services, and health education, reduces the likelihood of HIV transmission. Prevention and treatment work hand in hand to protect the health of the mother living with HIV and prevent transmission to her child – in utero, during delivery or during the breastfeeding period. Sexual transmission among discordant couples – where one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative – is also aided by preventative and treatment efforts.

To ensure that children and adolescents living with the virus receive the care they need, UNICEF also works to scale up early infant diagnosis and provide simplified HIV treatment for children. To do this, UNICEF is focused on integrating HIV testing, care, treatment and support for women living with HIV and their families into strengthened antenatal, postnatal, and child health platforms including at the local level.




Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free Targets

           Start Free

  • Reduce newly infected children to <40,000 by 2018 and <20,000 by 2020
  • Reach and Sustain 95% of pregnant women living with HIV with lifelong HIV treatment by 2018

          Stay Free

  • Reduce the number of new HIV infections among adolescents and young women to <100,000 by 2020
  • Provide voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) for HIV prevention to 25 million additional men by 2020, including 11 million in the geographic areas of highest HIV burden, with a focus on men aged 15-29

          AIDS Free

  • Have 1.6 million children aged 0-14 and 1.2 million adolescents aged 15 - 19 living with HIV on lifelong ART by 2018
  • Have 1.4 million children aged 0-14 and 1 million adolescents aged 15 - 19 with HIV on lifelong ART by 2020



ANC: Antenatal care

ARV: Antiretroviral

DBS: Dried Blood Spot

PMTCT: Prevention of Mother-to-child transmission

MTCT: Mother-to-child transmission

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