A global snapshot on children, HIV and AIDS, released by UNICEF revealed deep regional disparities among these data.
Low access to antiretroviral treatment and limited prevention efforts are leading causes of AIDS-related deaths in 0-14 year olds.
“The world is on the cusp of making great gains in the battle against HIV and AIDS, but we must not rest on the laurels of progress made,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Neglecting testing and treatment initiatives for children and adolescents is a matter of life and death, and for them, we must choose life.”
Access to antiretroviral treatment among children is highest in South Asia (91%) and lowest in West and Central Africa (28%). Mothers’ access to antiretroviral therapy to prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies has increased globally to 82%, an increase from 44% less than 10 years ago. However, this figure is still only 53% in the Middle East and North Africa.
- Around 160,000 0-9 year olds were newly infected with HIV during 2018.
- 89,000 under 5 year olds were infected during pregnancy or birth, 76,000 during breastfeeding.
- 140,000 adolescent girls were newly infected compared with 50,000 boys.
UNICEF is urging governments and partners to improve HIV testing and treatment data for children and adolescents, and invest in and implement interventions to close the testing and treatment gap.
HIV initiatives need to be fully funded and equipped to preserve and protect the quality of life for children.