To Achieve AIDS-Free Generation, Expand Access To Proven Interventions
“Through the combined efforts of many, and with incredible support from [PEPFAR], U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was recently able to announce that since PEPFAR began 10 years ago, one million babies born to HIV-positive mothers are free of the disease,” Leslie Mancuso, president and CEO of Jhpiego, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “This is a remarkable accomplishment, one that could only have been dreamt of a few short years ago. And it is a direct result of the global community having the tools, knowledge and support to virtually eliminate pediatric HIV,” she states, adding, “While we all can agree this news is worth celebrating, there is still much more to be done to reach the [Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)] established for HIV/AIDS by 2015.”
“We in the global health community know what works — promoting and integrating proven interventions into maternal care and helping HIV-positive women give birth to healthy, HIV-free babies,” Mancuso continues. “However, keeping these women engaged in their own health has often been a challenge in meeting the 2015 [goal] established to combat HIV/AIDS,” she states. “We must encourage all countries to provide [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] and comprehensive, quality maternal care — from the prenatal period through to cessation of breastfeeding — for women living with HIV … to ensure they live long, healthy lives so they can raise their HIV-free children,” she writes, adding, “We must marshal community health workers to track and support HIV-positive pregnant women after they give birth to HIV-free babies to ensure they are doing all that they must to keep themselves and their children healthy.” She concludes, “By expanding access to voluntary medical male circumcision, increasing HIV testing, counseling and [ART] in the regions and for the populations in greatest need, an AIDS-free generation won’t just be the hope. It will be the reality” (9/23).