Children Must Be Priority in Approach to Ending AIDS
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2017 : The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) applauds the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)'s continued investment in and acceleration of the important work of epidemic control and ending AIDS worldwide, as illustrated in the Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017 - 2020) (https://www.pepfar.gov/documents/organization/274400.pdf).Prioritizing the goals of first, maintaining accessibility to treatment and services for those currently supported by PEPFAR; second, increasing services for orphans and vulnerable children; third, ensuring key populations have access to essential services for preventing and treating HIV; and finally, driving progress toward controlling the epidemic in key priority countries is critical in advancing the goal of ending AIDS.
However, while epidemic control means reaching everyone at risk, it is notable that the strategy does not reflect data on children. As a partner in each of the six Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIA) countries, EGPAF is aware that progress is not the same across gender, age groups, and different segments of the population, and we are constantly adapting to address the identified gaps and challenges. Specifically, the gap in treatment access and viral load suppression is particularly significant in children under age 15. And while we applaud PEPFAR for the goal to get all sexually active HIV-positive individuals diagnosed and treated, we are concerned that this approach does not address the needs of infants and children already infected whose situation must be addressed with urgency.
Today, 400 children are newly infected with HIV daily, and only 43 percent of the 2.1 million children living with HIV have access to the medications they need to stay healthy. See http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/documents/2017/20170720_Global_AIDS_update_2017.
Children living with HIV require unique, specific actions to identify them and ensure they have access to and remain on treatment. EGPAF is committed to not only sustaining, but accelerating efforts to reach millions more children living with and affected by HIV with prevention, treatment, and care services. See http://pedaids.org/pages/program-implementation. We welcome the Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017 - 2020) and look forward to continuing to work with PEPFAR and other partners to implement strategic investments to achieve our goal of an AIDS-free generation.