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Progress in HIV care for children and pregnant women is almost flat in the last 3 years: UNICEF

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United Nations

– The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), ahead of World AIDS Day, warned that progress in the prevention and treatment of HIV for children, adolescents and pregnant women has almost stagnated in the last three years, and many regions are not yet in the pre-COVID-19 stage. 19 service coverage.

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Around 110,000 children and adolescents (0-19 years old) died of AIDS-related causes during 2021, while another 310,000 became infected for the first time, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.7 million, according to the latest UNICEF Global Panorama on Children and Adolescents. HIV/AIDS, which was published on Monday.

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This stagnation adds to an existing and growing gap in treatment between children and adults.

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“Although children have long lagged behind adults in the AIDS response, the stagnation seen over the past three years is unprecedented and puts too many young lives at risk of disease and death,” said Anurita Bains, Deputy Chief of HIV/AIDS of UNICEF. “Children are being forgotten because we collectively fail to find them, evaluate them and give them life-saving treatment. Every day that passes without progress, more than 300 children and adolescents lose their fight against AIDS.”

Despite representing only 7% of overall people living with HIV, children and adolescents accounted for 17% of all AIDS-related deaths and 21% of new HIV infections in 2021. A Unless the causes of inequalities are addressed, ending AIDS in children and adolescents remains a distant dream, UNICEF warned.

However, the snapshot shows that longer-term trends remain positive. New HIV infections among the youngest children (0-14 years) fell by 52% between 2010 and 2021, and new infections among adolescents (15-19 years) also fell by 40%. Similarly, lifetime antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage among pregnant women living with HIV increased from 46% to 81% in a single decade.

While the total number of children living with HIV is declining, the treatment gap between children and adults continues to grow. In UNICEF HIV priority countries, ART coverage for children was 56% in 2020, but fell to 54% in 2021. This decline is due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and other global crises , which have increased marginalization and poverty. , but is also a reflection of waning political will and a flagging response to AIDS among children. Globally, an even lower percentage of children living with HIV accessed treatment (52 per cent), which has only increased marginally in recent years.

Meanwhile, coverage among all adults living with HIV (76 percent) was more than 20 percentage points higher than among children. The gap was even greater between children (52 percent) and pregnant women living with HIV (81 percent). Alarmingly, the percentage of children between the ages of 0 and 4 who are living with HIV and not receiving ART has increased in the last seven years, reaching 72 percent in 2021, as high as in 2012, the snapshot shows. .

Many regions (Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Eastern and Southern Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Western and Central Africa) also experienced drops in treatment coverage for pregnant and lactating women during 2020, with Asia- Pacific and Middle East and North Africa experience further declines in 2021.

With the exception of West and Central Africa, which continues to experience the highest burden of mother-to-child transmission, none of the aforementioned regions have recovered to the coverage levels achieved in 2019. These disruptions put the lives of newborns at greater risk . In 2021, more than 75,000 new childhood infections occurred because pregnant women went undiagnosed and started treatment, the snapshot shows. ■

(Xinhua)

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