Nigeria joins 11 African countries to end AIDS in children by 2030


NIGERIA has joined 11 other African countries to end Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in children by 2030.

The West African country joined its peers in Tanzania on Wednesday, January 31, where they endorsed the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration, supporting the Global Alliance to end AIDS in children.

Other countries with Nigeria at the meeting are Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The meeting had heads of global agencies and development partners working on HIV/AIDs in attendance.

In partnership with networks of people living with HIV and community leaders, the countries laid out their action plans to help find and provide testing to more pregnant women and link them to care, a statement released about the meeting by the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

The plans involve finding and caring for infants and children living with HIV. 

The meeting marks a step up to ensure that all children with HIV have access to life-saving treatment and that mothers living with HIV have babies free from HIV. The statement stated that the alliance will work to drive progress over the next seven years to ensure that the 2030 target is met.

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The statement note 5 that a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes worldwide.

“Only half (52 per cent) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, far behind adults of whom three quarters (76 per cent) are receiving antiretrovirals.”

According to the WHO, 160 000 children newly acquired HIV in 2021, and children accounted for 15 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths, even though only four per cent of the total number of people living with HIV are children. 

Addressing the ministers, Tanzanian Vice-President Philip Mpango said, “Tanzania has shown its political engagement. Now we need to commit to moving forward as a collective whole. All of us, in our capacities, must have a role to play in ending AIDS in children. The Global Alliance is the right direction, and we must not remain complacent. 2030 is at our doorstep.”

The wife of Namibian President Monica Geingos agreed with Npango. She said, “This gathering of leaders is uniting in a solemn vow – and a clear plan of action – to end AIDS in children once and for all. There is no higher priority than this.”

The country’s work will centre on four pillars namely: early testing and optimal treatment and care for infants, children, and adolescents;

  • closing the treatment gap for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV, to eliminate vertical transmission;
  • preventing new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women; and
  • addressing rights, gender equality and the social and structural barriers that hinder access to services.

UNICEF, WHO, UNAIDS, others welcome decision

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Reacting to the development, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) said every child “has the right to a healthy and hopeful future, but for more than half of children living with HIV, that future is threatened”

Speaking through its Associate Director Anurita Bains, the agency said children must not be left behind in the global response to HIV and AIDS. 

In her response, Executive Director of The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Winnie Byanyima said with the science available in the world, no baby should be born with HIV or get infected during breastfeeding, and no child living with HIV had to be without treatment.

WHO’s Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus submitted that the world had come a long way in preventing infections among children and increasing access to treatment, but progress in caring for children with HIV had stalled globally 40 years after AIDS first emerged.

 “The Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children is a much-needed initiative to reinvigorate progress. WHO is committed to supporting countries with the technical leadership and policy implementation to realise our shared vision of ending AIDS in children by 2030.”

Peter Sands, Executive Director of The Global Fund,  PEPFAR’s John Nkengasong, and EGPAF President Chip Lyons also shared the same thoughts as others who attended the meeting.

The ICIR reports UNAIDS as saying 1.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2021; 38.4 million people lived with the disease, which killed 650,000 people that year.


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