"Children should be the first to benefit from our successes in defeating HIV, and the last to suffer from our failures."
- Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF
We’ve been working hard on the latest in UNICEF’s series of reports on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its impact on infants, children, adolescents and young people.
UNICEF is scheduled to launch its Sixth Stocktaking Report (2013) on Friday 29 November. Much has changed since we published the fifth edition of the report in 2010, including the growing use of simplified treatment - also known as WHO Option B+ - for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
For the first time, the report will be primarily digital. It offers the option to download the document itself, the executive summary and supporting materials such as charts and tables. It includes new country data, key facts, stories related to the epidemic and more.
This year’s edition uses a new approach to HIV and AIDS programming, centred on the first and second decades of a child’s life. It focuses on eliminating mother-to-child transmission and on the unique needs of adolescents affected by the epidemic.
From 29 November, you can find the report and its accompanying materials at www.childrenandaids.org.
An early response to the Gates Foundation’s call for a “next-generation condom.” Sometimes a bit of cheekiness helps when you’re out to change sexual behavior and prevent new HIV infections.
UNITE FOR CHILDREN - UNITE AGAINST AIDS
In Swaziland, a national push for an HIV-free generation
On March 22, the Government of Swaziland launched a framework to mount the final push toward achieving the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children and improving the health of women within the next two years.
Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world. In 2010, an estimated 41 per cent of pregnant women in the country were infected with HIV.
Watch as we report on programmes in Swaziland that are helping HIV-positive parents lead healthy lives and have HIV-free children.
You can read more here
The UN’s Interagency Task Team (IATT) on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV Infection in Pregnant Women, Mothers and Children this week released its toolkit for countries shifting to Option B+ for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
Option B+ calls for offering preganant women living with HIV antiretroviral medicines for life as soon as they’re diagnosed with the virus. The antiretrovirals protect not just their health, but that of their babies and their sexual partners.
The IATT describes the toolkit as:
"a collection of assessment tools and checklists that describe the key considerations to be taken into account when transitioning to Option B/B+.
The toolkit provides a roadmap to support the planning and implementation of Option B/B+, and to help countries scale up more effective interventions and programs to achieve the goals of the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive.
For more about Option B+, click on the picture above and explore the toolkit on the IATT website.
How do you bring about the end of AIDS? We wish it could happen overnight. But there’s really only one way: step by step, year by year, country by country.
A new digital dashboard helps us measure progress among three critical groups in the UN’s priority countries for reversing the epidemic. It comes from the Interagency Task Team on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in Pregnant Women, Mothers and Children — also known in our section as the IATT.
The dashboard tracks the journey toward a set of goals agreed by the global community with a 2015 deadline. Here’s how the IATT explains it:
The purpose of The Dashboard is to provide a simple snapshot of progress towards the 2015 targets outlined in the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive, adopted in 2011. The Dashboard brings together key pieces of global and priority country-specific data compiled and reported by UN agencies into a single place, highlighting achievements and gaps in access to PMTCT services, utilization, ARV coverage and paediatric outcomes. Color coding is used to highlight areas where specific countries are doing well or making slow progress and may require additional resources, to achieve Global Plan targets.
You can get more information on the dashboard - including some impressive tables and illustrations - on this page of the IATT website.
Our take-home message for 2012? “A new generation free of HIV, free of AIDS, must begin with children,” emphasizes UNICEF HIV/AIDS Section Chief Craig McClure. Check it out in the UNICEF 2012: Year in Review video.
One large study showed 3 to 5 percent of people with HIV were coming in with pre-treatment resistance" to antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV.
- Dr David Grelotti, a researcher at the Harvard University School of Public Health
The US NPR radio network reports that some people found to be living with HIV are turning out to be resistant to antiretroviral medicines commonly used to treat the virus — even if they’ve never been treated themselves.
The solution to the mystery may lie in recreational use of the medicines, sometimes in combination with street drugs.
In a commentary in The Lancet, Dr Grelotti says that illicit use of antiretrovirals appears to be creating immune HIV strains by the users, who can then transmit those strains to others.
One example is “Whoonga,” a South African combination of HIV medicines and street drugs.
UNICEF’s U-report application, recently launched in Zambia, has been operating in Uganda since May, 2011. A new video from the Ugandan rap group One Heart Family encourages young people to use the service. As a UNICEF story puts it:
The initiative equips mobile phone users with the tools to establish and enforce new standards of transparency and accountability in development programming and services.
By sending the text message, ‘join,’ to a toll-free number and submitting a few personal details, anyone with a mobile phone can become a volunteer ‘U-reporter’, sharing their observations and ideas on a wide range of development issues.
In less than a year, the population of U-reporters has grown to over 89,000, with 400 to 500 joining the network daily.
U-report already has a strong following among adolescents and young people, who are especially comfortable with the platform’s reliance on mobile phone technology.