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Treatment target for children living with HIV may not be reached by 2018

Treatment target for children living with HIV may not be reached by 2018

16 June 2017, Nairobi, Kenya: people gathered to commemorate the Day of the African Child and to speak up publicly for the rights of children and adolescents living with HIV. ©Albin Hillert/WCC

20 July 2017

A disturbing projection regarding the number of children living with HIV was released today by UNAIDS. In 2016 there were 2.1 million children living with HIV globally, compared with a previous estimate of 1.8 million in 2015.

This latest information, based on more accurate assumptions, indicates that previous figures underestimated the numbers of children living with HIV and makes the case for action even more urgent. In 2016 alone there were 160,000 new child infections, and every day 330 children died of AIDS-related diseases.

The shocking fact is that only 43 percent of all children living with HIV were on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy. To make matters worse, the report says that the rate of increase in the number on treatment has slowed in recent years, falling to an annual increase of 6 percent in 2016 from an annual increase of over 10 percent in previous years.

This leads UNAIDS to conclude in its Global AIDS Update 2017: “At the current rate of increase the world risks not reaching the target of providing antiretroviral therapy to 1.6 million children by 2018”, which was the target agreed by all United Nation member states at the 2016 UN High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS.

“This latest information must serve as a wakeup to governments and the international community”, said Dr Stuart Kean, consultant to the pediatric HIV advocacy project of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA). “Action must be taken now to deal with the constraints and challenges to enabling all children living with HIV to be tested and receive the treatment they urgently need.”

To change this situation, the WCC-EAA is mobilizing faith leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations to speak out for and with children and adolescents living with HIV and HIV/TB co-infection.

Francesca Merico, HIV campaign coordinator of the WCC-EAA said: “The WCC-EAA is calling the issue of children living with HIV a “justice Issue” and last month issued a call to action to governments and the international community to take action in six key areas”. The WCC-EAA has issued an action alert asking for religious leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations to become champions for children and adolescents living with HIV

Merico added: “Unless concrete action is taken now, hundreds of thousands more children will become HIV-positive and die needlessly in the coming years.”

Ending AIDS: Progress Towards the 90-90-90 Targets

Call to Action: Act now for children and adolescents living with HIV

Action Alert: Become a Champion for Children

Children, Adolescents and HIV