30 November 2012

New HIV infections in children are down, but more women and children living with the virus need to get treatment if we're to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation

Thanks to remarkable global commitment, the world has seen new HIV infections in children fall by almost a quarter – 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 a third of children and pregnant women are receiving the treatment they need, as opposed to the global average of 54% for adults overall. 

"It is simply wrong that adults are twice as likely as children to receive the treatment they need," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.

"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."

Treating HIV-positive pregnant women not only keeps them alive and well, but prevents babies from acquiring HIV during pregnancy, delivery and the breastfeeding period. Treatment can also prevent sexual transmission from an HIV-positive woman to an HIV-negative partner. 

 
Baby Lucy is five weeks old. Her mum has HIV and has taken part in a UNICEF programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Lucy will soon be tested for the virus. © UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1939/Christine Nesbitt
Baby Lucy is five weeks old. Her mum has HIV and has taken part in a UNICEF programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Lucy will soon be tested for the virus.© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1939/Christine Nesbitt

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