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UNICEF: 1.1 million HIV infections in children averted since 2005, but most vulnerable children still lack access to treatment

2014-11-28

TORONTO, November 28, 2014—An estimated 1.1 million HIV infections among children under age 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 treatments that markedly reduce the transmission of the virus to babies and keep their mothers alive and well.

But the global goal of reducing new HIV infections in children by 90 per cent between 2009 and 2015 is still out of reach. Only 67 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV in all low- and middle-income countries received the most effective antiretroviral medicines for PMTCT in 2013.

Disparity in access to treatment is hampering progress. Among people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries, adults are much more likely than children to get antiretroviral therapy (ART). In 2013, 37 per cent of adults aged 15 and older received treatment, compared with only 23 per cent of children (aged 0-14).

“An AIDS-free generation is within our grasp, but will only be a reality when we reach the most vulnerable children and families,” says David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “Less than one in four children who are living with HIV in poor and middle-income countries is being treated—there is still much work to be done to reach the most vulnerable.”

“Canada has been consistently investing in HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment through the Global Fund. Our government’s current commitment of $650 million for 2014-2016 is a significant step in saving the lives of children and families,” says Morley. “HIV and AIDS support should be integrated with health services that support newborn, child and maternal health—increasing the effectiveness of both investments and maximizing the number of lives saved.”

Eight African countries with sharpest declines
The sharpest declines took place between 2009 and 2013 in eight African countries: Malawi (67%); Ethiopia (57%); Zimbabwe (57%); Botswana (57%); Namibia (57%); Mozambique (57%); South Africa (52%) and Ghana (50%).

Adolescents only age group with no decline in AIDS-related deaths
AIDS mortality trends for adolescents are also of significant concern. While all other age groups have experienced a decline of nearly 40 per cent in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2013, adolescents (aged 10-19) are the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are not decreasing.

UNICEF’s Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS provides the most recent analysis of global data on children and adolescents from birth to 19 years of age.

To download a copy of the data update, excel spreadsheets, tables and graphs, please visit: www.childrenandaids.org

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About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.