For the first time since 2003, the number of new HIV infections among children aged 0-14 has not fallen year-on-year, and in sub-Saharan Africa, new cases may even have risen slightly. This deeply concerning detail is contained in data accompanying a new report released by UNAIDS yesterday.
A new factsheet shows that globally, 160,000 children aged 0-14 newly acquired HIV in 2020, the same number as in 2019. In sub-Saharan Africa, 130,000 new infections were reported among children in 2020, a slight rise on the 126,000 new infections reported in 2019.
Commenting, Frank Beadle de Palomo, President and CEO of mothers2mothers said:
“These concerning new data provide evidence that progress to ensure a new generation starts life HIV-free has stalled, perhaps due to service interruptions due to COVID-19. Since the vast majority of infections among children aged 0-14 are via “vertical transmission”, meaning they occur during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding, this means we must redouble efforts to identify pregnant women living with HIV and ensure that they are started and kept on the effective treatment that will keep them healthy and can also stop HIV transmission to their children. We know that female-led, community-based solutions can be incredibly effective in achieving this. As world leaders gather next week for a UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, we hope that they will react to this concerning development and pass a strong declaration that prioritises our youngest citizens.”