Children left behind in HIV treatment

The world marks World Aids Day on December 1, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Unicef’s latest survey report shows that every minute and 40 seconds that passed last year, a child or young person under the age of 20 was infected with HIV.

Nearly 320,000 children and adolescents were infected with HIV and 110,000 children died of AIDS-related diseases last year, most of them in Africa.

Although the number of AIDS-related deaths among children between the ages of 0 and 19 has dropped by 53 percent since 2000, the deaths among young children under the age of five were still the majority, with 60 percent in 2019.

The report states that the prevention and treatment of children through antiretroviral therapy still lags behind in both treatment coverage for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, at 85 percent.

It adds that the conditions of adults living with HIV (62 percent) in 2019 were exacerbated by the interruptions of Covid-19. Last year, only 53 percent of children with HIV had access to life-saving treatment.

The report, Reimagining a Veilient HIV Response for Children, Adolents and Pregnant Women Living with HIV, was released on Wednesday. It also showed that sub-Saharan Africa is home to nine out of ten out of an estimated 2.8 million children living with HIV in 2019.

East and southern Africa were more progressive in supporting HIV-positive children, with a baby born to a mother with HIV in the two regions, which is more than twice as likely to be tested within two months of birth .

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Chad, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, DRC, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Haiti, Nigeria and the Philippines are home to more than 50 percent of all children living with HIV and who are not ART.

In East Africa, only Uganda is on track to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission. The others in Africa are Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa and Malawi – which have all reported more than 95 percent ART coverage.

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