A number of African countries have recorded ‘considerable’ progress in pregnant women accessing antiretroviral treatment, a report reveals but notes that a lot needs to be done to end prevent new-mother to child infections.
The report, Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free, released at the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Mexico City, Mexico, a shows that a total of 16 000 new infections could have been averted in southern Africa by retaining mothers on treatment throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In western and central Africa, almost 27 000 of the 44 000 new infections could have been averted if their mothers had accessed antiretroviral medicines.
Globally, around 160 000 children aged 0–14 years became newly infected with HIV in 2018. This is a major decrease from 240 000 new infections in 2010. However, the bold and important target set for 2018 was fewer than 40 000 new infections.
“The failure to reach the 2018 targets to reduce new HIV infections among children and adolescents and to widen access to life-saving treatment is both disappointing and frustrating,” said Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, a.i. “We need to act quickly to turn this situation around and honour the commitment to end the AIDS epidemic for the next generation.”
There has been considerable progress among countries in eastern and southern Africa, with more than 90% of pregnant women accessing antiretroviral medicines in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe and 95% or higher in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
This has resulted in a 41% reduction in new HIV infections among children, with remarkable reductions achieved in Botswana (85%), Rwanda (83%), Malawi (76%), Namibia (71%), Zimbabwe (69%) and Uganda (65%) since 2010. The progress made by these countries shows what can be achieved through strong political leadership, rapid policy adoption and concerted efforts by all stakeholders.
Source: UNAIDS/Additional Editing by AllNetAfrica