Work on inequalities to get rid of AIDS: UN

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NEW DELHI - Removing deep rooted inequities in gender, economic status and education - from which millions of AIDS and HIV positive women and children suffer - is crucial to universal access to knowledge, protection and prevention of mother-to-child transmission, a UN report said.

Dec 1 is observed as World AIDS Day.

“Children and AIDS: Fifth Stocktaking Report 2010″ by UN agencies Unicef, UNAIDS, WHO and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which was released Tuesday in New York said the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be achieved through universalisation of anti-retroviral treatment.

A statement quoting the report and Unicef’s executive director Anthony Lake Wednesday said: “To achieve an AIDS-free generation we need to do more to reach the hardest hit communities. Every day, nearly 1,000 babies in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV through mother to child transmission.”

“Our Fifth Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS highlights innovations like the Mother Baby Pack that can bring life-saving anti-retroviral treatment to more mothers and their babies than ever before,” he added.

The report said: “There are new guidelines and better methods to diagnose children with HIV, and more opportunities to provide them with life-saving treatment, but lives are lost because these are not used as widely as they should be.”

“Only 28 percent of the 1.27 million children currently estimated to be in need receive antiretroviral treatment (ART). Treatment coverage among adults is higher, at 37 percent,” it added.

The report further said reducing the inequalities that drive the epidemic, among them gender and poverty, will also help to overcome barriers to access treatment.

Talking of the importance of awareness in curbing the spread of the disease, the report said: “In 2001, 5.7 million young people aged 15-24 were estimated to be living with HIV.”

“At the end of 2009, that number dropped to five million. This decline is linked to safer behaviour and practices. If more people knew how to protect themselves, more lives could be saved,” it added.

According to a UN report, India is home to about 2.3 million people living with AIDS.

Filed under: HIV, Medicine

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