Children and HIV and AIDS

Providing Paediatric Treatment

© UNICEF/ HQ06-1323/Versiani
Children dance in the playroom at GAPA (AIDS Prevention and Support Group) in Brazil, where many are being treated with anti-retroviral therapy.

More than half of all children living with the virus need antiretroviral drug treatment to save their lives.  Only a minority receive it.  Without treatment, some fifty per cent of these children will die by their second birthday.


The facts

  • In 2009, globally, there are 2 million children below the age of 15 living with HIV.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 2.3 million children living with HIV.
  • Only 28% of children under 15 living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries received antiretroviral treatment for the virus.
  • In Eastern and Southern Africa, the region most severely affected by the epidemic, 32% of these children received ARVs.
  • The number of children receiving antiretroviral treatment increased by over 375%, from 75,000 in 2005 to 356,000 in 2008.

What is the response?
Once a diagnosis of HIV is confirmed, medical and social support must be available throughout childhood, and into adolescence and adulthood.

In the developing world, children are less likely than adults to receive antiretroviral treatment for HIV. And poverty, isolation and distance from health care facilities can place them beyond the reach of life-saving care.

UN Millennium Development Goal 4 calls for reducing infant and child mortality. 

What needs to happen?
Early testing, diagnosis and treatment are crucial to ensuring that children living with the virus receive the care they need.  To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, services for the care, treatment and protection of children must be scaled up to reach all of those affected.  Only then will the response to the epidemic be truly inclusive.








VCT: Voluntary conselling and testing

ART: Antiretroviral treatment or therapy

ANC: Antenatal care

ARV: Antiretroviral drugs

DBS: Dried Blood Spot

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