This World AIDS Day (1st December), World Vision is continuing to call for universal access to services to be available to ensure that no child is born with HIV.
In 2009 the number of children living with HIV worldwide increased to 2.5 million. More than 90 per cent of all children living with HIV contract the virus from their mothers during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding.
However, the overall risk of HIV passing from mother to child can be reduced to less than two per cent by interventions including testing, counselling, antiretroviral treatment and exclusive breast-feeding or appropriate replacement feeding.
World Vision’s UK's Stuart Kean said: “It is totally unacceptable that children are still being born with HIV when we know what action needs to be taken.
"The international community must urgently mobilise efforts behind the United Nations’ strategy1. If this happens we can make the dream of an AIDS Free Generation become a reality.”
As part of its community-based HIV programmes, World Vision works to protect mothers and babies through awareness raising, prevention and care.
World Vision believes that fathers must be fully involved in activities to end children being born with HIV, particularly participating in voluntary testing and counselling.
In Voi, southern Kenya, where one in ten people lives with HIV, a support group is encouraging men to be more involved in activities that aim to prevent transmission of HIV from mother to child.
Founding member Juma, 34, encouraged his pregnant wife to be tested for HIV after testing positive himself.
Following a positive test result, his wife sought support to help prevent HIV infection in her unborn child – now a three-month-old and free from HIV.
Juma said: “Every child has a right to live free from HIV; every father has a chance to ensure this happens.
“If we don’t do it for our children, how do we expect them to live tomorrow?”
World Vision is a member of the Stop AIDS Campaign, a coalition of charities campaigning for comprehensive universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.
The campaign is calling on the UK government to help end HIV in babies by pledging £840m to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria over the next three years.
30 November 2010
1 The four elements of the UN strategy include: primary prevention of HIV among women of childbearing age; preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV; preventing HIV transmission from a woman living with HIV to her infant; and providing appropriate treatment, care and support to women living with HIV and their children and families.