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On World AIDS Day: More pregnant women and children must get treatment, says UNICEF

NEW YORK/KYIV, 28 November 2012 – Globally new HIV infections in children are down, but reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires treating more pregnant women and children living with HIV, UNICEF said today.


Not all those people that need HIV/AIDS medicines, get it

UNICEF/UKRAINE/2010/G. Pirozzi


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. And, as of December 2011, over 100,000 more children were receiving antiretroviral treatment compared to 2010.


But less than one-third of children and pregnant women are receiving the treatment they need, as opposed to the global average of 54 per cent for adults overall.


"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.”

The absolute number of children infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) continues to increase as there is a 20-30 per cent yearly increase in HIV-infected pregnant women in Ukraine. In 2011, HIV prevalence among pregnant women was 0.47 per cent, the highest in Europe. In Ukraine, major challenges remain when it comes to reaching marginalized pregnant women with HIV prevention interventions, including drug-addicted pregnant women who have a higher likelihood of transmitting HIV to their children.

Healthy children are crucial for HIV free generation

UNICEF/UKRAINE/2010/G. Pirozzi


The solution is to establish integrated services to address the needs of drug-dependent pregnant women, both HIV-positive and HIV-negative, and children born to them. UNICEF with partners is implementing now such a pilot project in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Poltava.

“Ukraine can achieve zero transmission of HIV from mother to child, because Government has already established effective service to prevent transmission in 2001. Now we need to ensure services are available to all pregnant women, including those drug-addicted”, - explained Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine. “UNICEF is supporting now a positive initiative in providing friendly services particularly to those socially vulnerable women. So that children born to them are healthy”, - she added.

According to official statistics from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health, 32,504 children were born to HIV-positive mothers between 1995 and 2012. Most HIV-positive children are born into socially disadvantaged, younger families, with 85 per cent of the parents under the age of 30. Close to ten per cent of HIV-positive mothers abandon their children to state-run orphanages in Ukraine. Working to end new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive is a key element of UNICEF’s overall commitment to child survival under the global movement, “A Promise Renewed.”


For more information please contact:

Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, Tel + 1 212 303 7984, Mobile: + 1 917 3781 2128,

Veronika Vaschenko, UNICEF Kyiv, Tel: +38 044 254 2450, Mobile: +38 050 388 2951,



About UNICEF: UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. 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. UNICEF celebrates the 15th anniversary of their presence in Ukraine this year. It opened its office in Kyiv in 1997 following the conclusion of the Basic Cooperation Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF. Later, it was ratified by the Parliament of Ukraine providing the basis for relationship and cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and UNICEF aimed at improving the lives of children and families throughout the territory of Ukraine. More info at: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.



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