Phiona, 38, at her home with her youngest son.

12 African Nations Pledge to End AIDS in Children by 2030

Twelve African countries have committed themselves, and laid out their plans, to end AIDS in children by 2030 at the first ministerial meeting in Tanzania.

The meeting marks a step up in action to ensure that all children with HIV have access to life-saving treatment and that mothers living with HIV have babies free from HIV. 

The Alliance will work to drive progress over the next seven years, to ensure that the 2030 target is met.

Currently, around the world, a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, far behind adults of whom three-quarters (76%) are receiving antiretrovirals.

In 2021,160 000 children newly acquired HIV. Children accounted for 15% of all AIDS-related deaths, despite the fact that only 4% of the total number of people living with HIV are children. 

In partnership with networks of people living with HIV and community leaders, ministers of the 12 countries laid out their action plans to help find and provide testing to more pregnant women and link them to care. 

The plans also involve finding and caring for infants and children living with HIV.

The work will center on four pillars including early testing and optimal treatment and care for children; as well as closing the treatment gap for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV to eliminate vertical transmission;

The other two pillars are preventing new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women, and addressing gender equality and the social barriers that hinder access to services.

Twelve countries with high HIV burdens have joined the alliance in the first phase: Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, D.R. Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

“Tanzania has shown its political engagement, now we need to commit to moving forward as a collective whole,” Vice-President of Tanzania Philip Mpango said.

“All of us in our capacities must have a role to play to end AIDS in children. The Global Alliance is the right direction, and we must not remain complacent. 2030 is at our doorstep.”

Progress is possible, as per the UN health agency, using Botswana as a case in point.

Last year, Botswana became the first African country with high HIV prevalence to be validated as being on the path to eliminating vertical transmission of HIV, which means the country had fewer than 500 new HIV infections among babies per 100 000 births.

The vertical transmission rate in the country was 2% versus 10% a decade ago.

Featured Image: Phiona, 38, at her home with her youngest son. She works as a Peer Mother at the Rugaga IV Health Centre in Uganda. Through the program, a number of peer mothers have been trained, mentored and facilitated to support mothers to deliver HIV-free babies. [Photo UNICEF/Schermbrucker]