An AIDS-free generation is closer than ever
Imagine a world where all children are born free of HIV, and where those who are living with HIV get the treatment and care they need. Imagine a world where all children can grow up to fulfil their potential without AIDS. That dream is within reach.
UNICEF’s ‘Children and AIDS: The Sixth Stocktaking’ report shows that more than 850,000 new infections among children (0-14 years old) were averted between 2005 and 2012 in low- and middle-income countries. This achievement was due to global and national efforts to make treatment and other services available for pregnant women living with HIV. Mother to child transmission of HIV has been virtually eliminated in high-income countries, and the means to do this in low- and middle-income countries exists.
Some 260,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2012, compared to 540,000 in 2005. In Mali, the situation is critical. In 2012, only 58,675 pregnant women were tested and received their results out of an estimated number of 763,362 expected pregnancies due to insufficient coverage with elimination of mother to child transmission (eMTCT) of HIV services and a multidimensional crisis that affected the country.
Adolescent AIDS-related deaths increased by 50 per cent between 2005 and 2012, while global AIDS-related deaths fell by 30 per cent. Adolescents are the only age group in which AIDs-related deaths have increased, despite promising signs of behaviour change, in terms of increase in using condoms and delaying sexual debut. This age group is too often overlooked in the overall response to HIV, both at national and at global levels.
If we are to capitalise on the impressive progress made in the first decade of life, serious work remains:
Those living with the virus need antiretroviral medicines to stay healthy and to avoid passing HIV to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
Access to testing, counselling and treatment must be made available through adolescent-friendly programmes that take into account young people’s needs and offer them a protective and safe environment.
Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Mali Representative