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.