HIV/Aids infections in sub-Saharan children reduced

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Addis Ababa, June 30, 2013 (WIC) - The new HIV/AIDS infections among children have been reduced by 50 percent in seven countries in Sub Saharan Africa including Tanzania, though access to treatment remains unacceptably low. Only 3 children out of 10 in need of treatment have access in most of the Global Plan priority countries.

Addressing reporters of the new report on the Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive yesterday in Dar es Salaam UNAIDS Country Coordinator Hedia Belhadj said the report marked the progress in stopping new infections among children across the global plan priority countries in Africa.

Belhadj also said that Tanzania was among seven sub-Saharan  countries which have reduced infections among children and making substantial progress. Others are Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Namibia.

“It is highlighted that there were 130,000 fewer new HIV infections among children across the 21 Global Plan priority countries in Africa which is a drop of 38 per cent since 2009,” she said

She added: “More than half of the children eligible for treatment in South Africa and Swaziland now have access. Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have doubled the numbers of children accessing treatment from 2009 to 2012”

While the report outlines that the number of children requiring HIV treatment will reduce as new HIV infections decline, she underscored that urgent steps need to be taken to improve early diagnosis of HIV in children and ensure timely access to antiretroviral treatment.

“The number of pregnant women living with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy for their own health has increased since 2009.

In Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia, more than 75 per cent of the pregnant women eligible receive antiretroviral therapy and more than 50 per cent in Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are increasing access to antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women living with HIV for their own health is critical” she said.

UNAIDS Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Michel Sidibé said:  “The progress in the majority of countries is a strong signal that with focused efforts every child can be born free from HIV,”
He insisted: “But progress has stalled in some countries with high numbers of new HIV infections. We need to find out why and remove the bottlenecks which are preventing scale-up.”

However, the pace of decline in some of the Global Plan priority countries has been slow and in Angola, new HIV infections have even increased.

New infections among children in Nigeria––which has the largest number of children acquiring HIV (nearly 60 000 new HIV infections among children in 2012)––remained largely unchanged since 2009. Without urgent action in Nigeria the global target for 2015 may not be reached.

“We have the tools required to reach the Global Plan’s goals, and recent data show that we are moving ever closer to their realization,” said Ambassador Eric P. Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

“This month, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced, the one millionth baby will be born HIV-free. Now, we must all continue working together to see the day when no children are born with HIV, which is within our reach,” he added. (