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Seven Sub-Saharan Countries Have Cut New HIV Infections In Children By 50% Since 2009, Report Says

“Seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s worst-hit region in the global AIDS epidemic, have cut the number of new HIV infections in children by 50 percent since 2009, the [UNAIDS] program said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/25). “This is according to the latest progress report [.pdf] on the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan), which was launched in July 2011 at the U.N. General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS,” the U.N. News Centre states (6/25). “The goal of the program is to reduce mother-to-child transmissions by 90 percent and to reduce the number of AIDS-related maternal deaths by 50 percent by 2015,” CNN notes (Christensen, 6/25). “The seven countries seeing decreases include Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia — with two others, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe, making substantial progress since 2009,” Medical Daily writes (Weller, 6/25). “Ghana showed the greatest decline in new infections since 2009 at 76 percent, followed by South Africa at 63 percent,” according to UPI.com (Butler, 6/25). “In total, across 21 countries where the protection of children from HIV has been prioritized under UNAIDS’ global plan, 130,000 fewer children have tested positive, which is a reduction of 38 percent since 2009,” The Guardian adds (Boseley, 6/25).

“The progress in the majority of countries is a strong signal that with focused efforts every child can be born free from HIV,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, adding, “But progress has stalled in some countries with high numbers of new HIV infections. We need to find out why and remove the bottlenecks which are preventing scale-up,” Reuters writes (6/25). The Global Plan initiative was spearheaded by UNAIDS and PEPFAR, the U.N. News Centre notes. Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and head of the State Department’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy, said, “We have the tools required to reach the Global Plan’s goals, and recent data show that we are moving ever closer to their realization. … This month, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced, the one millionth baby will be born HIV-free due to PEPFAR’s support. Now, we must all continue working together to see the day when no children are born with HIV, which is within our reach,” according to the news service (6/25).