Over 50% of children living with HIV will die before their second birthday if remain untreated- Report warns

According to report from the Sart Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free Initiative recently released in Geneva, more than one third of children born to mothers living with HIV are not being tested and if untreated about 50% of children living with HIV will die before they reach their second birthday.

The report also said, almost half (46%) of the world’s 1.7 million children living with HIV were not on treatment in 2020 and 150 000 children were newly infected with HIV, four times more than the 2020 target of 40 000 lamenting that progress made towards ending AIDS among children, adolescents and young women has stalled and none of the targets for 2020 were met.

The report further revealed that the total number of children on treatment declined for the first time with nearly 800 000 children living with HIV not currently on treatment. “It also shows that opportunities to identify infants and young children living with HIV early are being missed—more than one third of children born to mothers living with HIV were not tested.

The Initiative and its partners including WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF. PEPFAR however said it is time for children’s right to health and healthy lives including their value in our societies be reactivated on all fronts.” we need the leadership, activism, and investments to do what’s right for kids.”

It said there must be super Fast-Track approach to ensure that every child has an HIV-free beginning, that they stay HIV-free through adolescence and that every child and adolescent living with HIV has access to antiretroviral therapy.

“The HIV community has a long history of tackling unprecedented challenges, today we need that same energy and perseverance to address the needs of the most vulnerable—our children. African leaders have the power to help us change the pace of care and should act and lead until no child living with HIV is left behind,”

“While we are deeply distressed by the global paediatric HIV shortfalls, we are also encouraged by the fact that we largely have the tools we need to change this, so, let this report be a call to action to challenge complacency and to work tirelessly to close the gap.”

The report however, outlined three actions necessary to end new HIV infections among children in the focus countries just as it pledged total support to ending children dying from HIV/AIDs.

“First, reach pregnant women with testing and treatment as early as possible—66 000 new HIV infections occurred among children because their mothers did not receive treatment at all during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Second, ensure the continuity of treatment and viral suppression during pregnancy, breastfeeding and for life—38 000 children became newly infected with HIV because their mothers were not continued in care during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Third, prevent new HIV infections among women who are pregnant and breastfeeding—35 000 new infections among children occurred because a woman became newly infected with HIV during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

It could be recall that Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free is a five-year framework that began in 2015, following on from the hugely successful Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.

The approach intensified focus on 23 countries, 21 of which were in Africa, that accounted for 83% of the global number of pregnant women living with HIV, 80% of children living with HIV and 78% of young women aged 15–24 years newly infected with HIV.


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