World AIDS Day 2013
According to the 2010 UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic, there were 2.5 million children living with HIV/AIDS. They were infected through their mother during pregnancy, labour and delivery or breastfeeding. At the end of 2011, there were 3.3 million children (1) living with HIV around the world; 230,000 children died of AIDS.
Do you know that every day, more than 700 babies are born HIV-positive?
Nine out of ten children infected with HIV were infected through their mother either during pregnancy, labour and delivery or breastfeeding, and without treatment (2), around 15-30% of babies born to HIV positive women will become infected with HIV during pregnancy and delivery and a further 5-20% will become infected through breastfeeding. Rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be reduced by giving antiretroviral drugs to mothers in pregnancy and during labour, and to infants after delivery, but the lack of information and education, and a bad economic situation make access to this treatment method difficult in developing countries.
The UNICEF and other world organisations want to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and bring the number of children infected with HIV to zero by 2015. The safest way to protect a baby from HIV is to make sure that the mother is not being infected in the first place, but if it happens, and the mother receives the right treatment at the right time, we can almost certainly make sure that the baby is born HIV-negative.
The reports raise the alarm on adolescents, citing the need for increased global and national efforts to address this vulnerable age group, by talking about the virus and prevention. According to the UNICEF reports (4), there were about 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV last year, and about 2/3 of new HIV infections in adolescents aged 15-19 were among girls.
If we know the dangers the HIV and AIDS bring, and we know there are measures of prevention, care and treatment, we have an obligation and responsibility to do everything we can to bring healthy children to this world and teach them how to protect from HIV and not be at risk later in life.