UNAIDS and funders convene to discuss ending vertical transmission of HIV at AIDS 2010

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UNAIDS and funders convene to discuss ending vertical transmission of HIV at AIDS 2010

20 July 2010

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and External Relations Branch, Ms Jan Beagle addressed a meeting of funders committed to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and External Relations Branch, Ms Jan Beagle addressed a meeting of funders committed to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. Credit: UNAIDS/Anna Rauchenberger

Continuing UNAIDS' efforts to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015, earlier today, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and External Relations Branch, Ms Jan Beagle addressed a meeting of funders already committed to this action, at a side event of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

Bringing together funders from around the world who are focused on HIV, reproductive health, and maternal and child health—including private foundations, family foundations, and corporations—the meeting provided an inspirational platform, addressing how these stakeholders can strengthen and align their responses.

Ms Beagle noted that in 2008 an estimated 280,000 children under fifteen died of HIV-related causes. Most of these children were under the age of five and were infected through their mothers either during pregnancy, labour and delivery, or through breastfeeding, and over 90% lived in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“By contrast, mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been almost eliminated in high-income countries,” said Ms Beagle. “It is an immense injustice that mother-to-child transmission of HIV has not yet been eliminated globally. It is achievable and doable across the world in a business timeframe i.e. by 2015.”

Ms Beagle encouraged those present to join the global effort and understand the role they can play to support unmet needs through financial and non-financial contributions.

On the benefits of preventing HIV infections in children, Ms Beagle noted, “Imagine the impact that it would have on families and communities, in terms of educated societies and productivity.”

Mother-to-child HIV transmission

An estimated 430,000 children were infected with HIV in 2008. However significant progress in ending mother-to-child transmission has occurred in recent years. In 2008 around 45% of pregnant women living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries received antiretroviral drugs compared with only 10% in 2004. Despite these successes, across the world each year over a million pregnant women risk passing along HIV to their child.

UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé has called for the virtual elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 and efforts are gaining momentum around the world.

Preventing mothers from dying and babies from becoming infected with HIV is also one of UNAIDS’ key priority areas as outlined in its 2009 – 2011 Outcome Framework. UNAIDS calls for the scaling up of access to and the use of quality services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission as an integral part of sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights for women, their partners and young people.

The event was hosted by Johnson & Johnson and co-partners included UNAIDS, Funders Concerned About AIDS, Global Business Coalition for HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, and the European Funders Group.