April 4, 2008
On Thursday, UNICEF reported there have been some improvements for children facing AIDS, but progress is still far short of goals set for 2010. Three years ago, UNICEF established targets on reducing mother-to-child (MTC) HIV transmission, supplying pediatric AIDS drugs, preventing HIV among adolescents, and caring for children with HIV/AIDS.
In 2006, the number of HIV-positive pregnant women in middle- to low-income countries who received treatment to prevent MTC transmission increased to 350,000, up 60 percent from 2005. In those countries, the proportion of infected women receiving drugs to reduce the HIV risk to their babies grew from 10 percent in 2004 to 23 percent in 2006, still much lower than UNICEF's 80 percent target for coverage by 2010. In 2006, there were 1.5 million births to HIV-positive women in low- and middle-income countries. UNICEF noted "steady progress" in eastern and southern Africa, home to the majority of newly infected children.
More than 125,000 children with HIV were receiving treatment in 2006, UNICEF said, a 70 percent increase from 2005. "Yet, with millions of children and women not being reached, these results are in no way satisfactory," the report said. Government-provided services are still reaching only a low percentage of those in need, it added.
"Poor geographical service reach, aggravated by weak health systems, and the fear, stigma, and denial that discourage many women from being tested for HIV are significant barriers to wider coverage," the report said. "Community mobilization and family support, especially from men, for women who are HIV-positive remain urgent priorities."