Technical brief |

From guidelines to reality: Accelerating access to prevention and treatment of paediatric HIV

Photograph by Luca Sola

In 2011, UNAIDS launched the “Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive”, endorsed by UN member-state governments to scale up prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services. While this initiative saw the number of new HIV infections in children fall from 280,000 in 2010 to 160,000 in 2018, the rate of decline in the past 3-4 years has plateaued, leaving the goal of only 20,000 new infections per year by 2020 far out of reach. Nine out of 10 of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, 82% of pregnant women living with HIV globally were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), but wide regional variations exist, and access to ART for PMTCT ranges from 92% in eastern and southern Africa, to 53% in the Middle East and North Africa. ART coverage for children living with HIV continues to lag behind – in 2018, more than half of children (54%) were still not receiving the lifesaving treatment they needed.

This report examines the barriers to preventing new paediatric HIV infections and to providing timely and optimal treatment where we have failed to prevent transmission.