Kechi Achebe, MD, MPH
Senior Director, HIV/AIDS, International Programs
Save the Children US
June 27, 2016
UNAIDS and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) released their “AIDS-Free Generation” report at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS June 8-10th in New York, which indicated a 60% decline in HIV incidence among children since 2009 in the 21 sub-Saharan Africa nations most affected by the HIV epidemic. As a distinctive partner of UNAIDS, Save the Children contributed to these achievements through implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs throughout Africa and Asia, helping 11.7 million children in 2015.
The On the Fast-Track to an AIDS-Free Generation report highlights the many recent accomplishments made towards achieving an AIDS-free generation:
- New HIV infections among children in the 21 sub-Saharan Africa countries dropped from 270,000 in 2009 to 110,000 in 2015.
- New HIV infections among children have declined globally by 50% since 2010—down from 290,000 in 2010 to 150,000 in 2015.
- 49% of children living with HIV around the world now have access to life-saving treatment, compared to 32% who received treatment in 2014.
- Seven countries have reduced new HIV infections among children by more than 70% since 2009 (the baseline for the Global Plan).
- In India, the only Global Plan country outside of sub-Saharan Africa, new HIV infections in children dropped by 44% and coverage of services to pregnant women increased from less than 4% in 2010 to 31% in 2015.
- More than 80% of pregnant women living with HIV in the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had access to medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to their child—up from just 36% in 2009.
- Six countries—Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda—met the Global Plan goal of ensuring that 90% or more of pregnant women living with HIV had access to life-saving ARVs. Six additional countries provided antiretroviral medicines to more than 80% of pregnant women living with HIV.
- Access to treatment for children living with HIV has increased more than threefold since 2009—from 15% in 2009 to 51% in 2015.
Despite this groundbreaking progress, the report also highlights prospective areas of improvement:
- Nigeria reduced new HIV infections among children by only 21%.
- Still only half of all children in need of treatment have access to ART.
- Early infant diagnosis coverage remains low. In the majority of the 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, less than half of childrenborn to women living with HIV received HIV testing within the first two months of age in 2015.
- New HIV infections among women of reproductive age declined by 5% below the target of 50%. Between 2009 and 2015, around 5 million women became newly infected with HIV in the 21 priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among adolescents on the continent.
To continue to address these areas, at the meeting, UNAIDS and PEPFAR—in collaboration with other partners—
launched their Super Fast-Track framework for ending AIDS among children, adolescents, and young women. Titled “Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS-Free,” the initiative will build upon current progress made towards the previous Fast-Track framework to end the global AIDS epidemic. The new Super Fast-Track framework sets ambitious targets to:
- eliminate new HIV infections among children;
- find and ensure access to treatment for all children living with HIV; and
- prevent new HIV infections among adolescents and young women.
The link to several press releases at the event can be found here.