(Left) Photo by Caroline Trutmann/Save the Children
While mother-to-child transmission of HIV has be almost completely eliminated from industrialized countries including the United States and Western Europe, it remains common in Africa.
HIV is most commonly transmitted from mother to child through pregnancy and labour or post-natally during breastfeeding. Thankfully, HIV infections in newborns and children have declined since 2002. However, too many newborns and children are still becoming infected. In 2008, 430,000 children were infected and 280,000 died during that year (source:UNAIDS).
Children in 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to India, make up the majority of child infections worldwide. In fact, according to UNAIDS, these countries make up 90% of the women in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to prevent mother to child transmission (MTCT).
THE GLOBAL PLAN: BELIEVE THAT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE CAN BE BORN FREE FROM HIV
World leaders and members of 40 civil society organizations from 35 countries, representing the private sector, networks of people living with HIV and international organizations gathered in New York in June 2011 for the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS. At the meeting, they launched the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. It provides the foundation for country-led movements towards.
The goal of the Global Plan is to move towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. In reaching for this goal, two Global Targets are outlined in the Plan:
- Global Target 1: Reduce the number of new childhood HIV infections by 90%.
- Global Target 2: Reduce the number of HIV-related maternal deaths by 50%.
In order to ensure that these Global Targets are met, the Global Plan outlines six key conditions that must be met:
1. All women, especially pregnant women, have access to quality life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services—for themselves and their children.
2. The rights of women living with HIV are respected and women, families and communities are empowered to fully engage in ensuring their own health and, especially, the health of their children.
3. Adequate resources—human and financial—are available from both national and international sources in a timely and predictable manner while acknowledging that success is a shared responsibility.
4. HIV, maternal health, newborn and child health and family planning programmes work together, deliver quality results and lead to improved health outcomes.
5. Communities, in particular women living with HIV, are enabled and empowered to support women and their families to access the HIV prevention, treatment, care and support that they need.
6. National and global leaders act in concert to support country-driven efforts and are held accountable for delivering results.