Ethiopia is one of the 25 countries that reduced new HIV infectionsBy Elias Meseret
An estimated 1.1 million HIV infections among children under 15 have been averted, as new cases declined by over 50 per cent between 2005 and 2013, according to data released by UNICEF today ahead of World AIDS Day.
“This extraordinary progress is the result of expanding the access of millions of pregnant women living with HIV to services for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). These include lifelong HIV treatment that markedly reduces the transmission of the virus to babies and keeps their mothers alive and well,” UNICEF said in its statement today.
“If we can avert 1.1 million new HIV infections in children, we can protect every child from HIV – but only if we reach every child,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We must close the gap, and invest more in reaching every mother, every newborn, every child and every adolescent with HIV prevention and treatment programs that can save and improve their lives.”
The sharpest declines took place between 2009 and 2013 in eight African countries: Malawi (67per cent); Ethiopia (57per cent); Zimbabwe (57per cent); Botswana (57per cent); Namibia (57per cent); Mozambique (57per cent); South Africa (52per cent) and Ghana (50per cent).
Ethiopia is one of the 25 countries that reduced new HIV infections by 90 per cent from 135,000 in 2001 to 15,100 in 2013. On average, more than 11 million people per year have been reached with HIV testing and counselling as part of early treatment initiation efforts. People living with HIV who are accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) have dramatically increased from 8,000 in 2005 to over 350,000 in 2014. However, coverage of ART for children less than 15 years is only 23 per cent compare to 86 per cent for adults in 2014.