Poor access to healthcare hits HIV eradication goal

UNICEF says its global goal of reducing new HIV infections in children by 90 per cent between 2009 and 2015 is still out of reach

By Rajit Sengupta
Published: Monday 01 December 2014

Four-month-old Posha is living with HIV infection in Southeast African nation of Malawi (Photo: UNICEF/Marinovich)

Disparity in access to healthcare has been the biggest deterrent in achieving the UNICEF target of reducing HIV infections in children below 15 years by 90 per cent between 2009 and 2015. A recent UNICEF statement says that new cases of HIV infections has declined by more than 50 per cent between 2005 and 2013 because of better access to treatment to pregnant women globally.

“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,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said. “We must close the gap, and invest more in reaching every mother, every newborn, every child and every adolescent with HIV prevention and treatment programmes that can save and improve their lives,” he added.

The sharpest declines in new HIV infections among children took place between 2009 and 2013 in eight African countries: Malawi (67 per cent); Ethiopia (57 per cent); Zimbabwe (57 per cent); Botswana (57 per cent); Namibia (57 per cent); Mozambique (57 per cent); South Africa (52 per cent); and Ghana (50 per cent), according to UNICEF.

The agency also says it has been unsuccessful in reducing AIDS mortality in adolescents. “While all other age groups have experienced a decline of nearly 40 per cent in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2013, adolescents aged 10 to 19 are the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are not decreasing,” the release said.

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