Addressed by Eliane Drakopoulos
As we know, the political and financial commitments of the last decades have led to remarkable gains in the HIV epidemic. The scale-up of PMTCT services has averted over a million new infections, as we heard at PEPFAR’s 10-year anniversary.
But our work is not done if we want to see the end of AIDS in the post-2015 era. About nine hundred children are still born with HIV every day, and half will die by their second birthdays without treatment.
And we know that many of them are not getting that treatment, with child ARV access rates lagging far behind those for adults – globally, 58% of eligible adults are on treatment, but only 28% of children are.
The need to take action to identify and enroll children in ART will be even more apparent with the new WHO Guidelines, recommending that all children infected with HIV below five be initiated on ART, regardless of CD4 count.
Currently, the particular barriers children face in accessing ART are not being addressed sufficiently at the global or national level. These include social barriers, including stigma and discrimination; weak child-friendly health systems; extensive demands on healthcare workers; and a lack of available child-friendly formulations. We also need to pay particular attention to the needs of care-givers, who will ultimately ensure that children have access to treatment.
We urge UNAIDS, its co-sponsors, civil society partners, and member states to prioritize this concern, particularly in light of the special challenges children face in accessing treatment and the huge disparity in treatment rates.
HIV/AIDS must remain a high priority of any post-2015 framework.
There must be clear goals and targets that are time-bound and measurable to facilitate scale-up so that the most vulnerable – including women and children – are able to access the HIV prevention and treatment services they need, and so that governments and civil society — all of us — can be held accountable to make sure we are not leaving children behind.
Not only do we hope to see specific HIV-related goals in any post-2015 agenda — new goals and targets specifically on children and HIV could be the focus the world needs to create an AIDS-free generation. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by. With concerted global financial and political commitment, and a concerted effort to get all children living with HIV/AIDS into care and treatment, an AIDS-free generation can become the biggest global health triumph of the post-2015 era.