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UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO urge countries in West and Central Africa to accelerate the pace of the HIV response for children and adolescents

At a high-level meeting in Dakar, Senegal, UNAIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged African countries to West and Central to do more to stop the new HIV infections in children and adolescents and expand the coverage of HIV testing and treatment.

In 2017, approximately 67,000 children (0 to 9 years old) and 69,000 adolescents (10 to 19 years old) were recently infected with HIV. Two thirds (46,000) of newly infected adolescents were girls. While progress has been made in some countries to end new HIV infections in children, 11 countries recorded a reduction of more than 35% between 2010 and 2017 *, others, including Nigeria, which has the largest epidemic in the world. region, has not decreased.

"The countries of West and Central Africa have a real opportunity to create positive change for children and young people," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "The underlying problems, including gender inequalities and widespread stigma and discrimination, must be urgently addressed so that barriers to achieving results for children and lifting more lives are eliminated.

In West and Central Africa, nearly 800,000 children and adolescents from 0 to 19 years of age were living with HIV in 2017, the second highest number in the world after eastern and southern Africa.

"The majority of children living with HIV in this region do not receive care or treatment because they do not know they have HIV because they have not been evaluated," said Marie-Pierre. Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "We can reverse this trend by focusing on a family-centered approach to detection and treatment, and introducing innovative technologies from care settings that bring screening closer to primary health facilities and the communities where children live."

Less than half of pregnant women living with HIV in the region (47%) had access to antiretroviral drugs to prevent transmission of the virus to their children, and only 21% of newborns exposed to HIV were exposed to HIV. HIV Test for the virus in the first two months of life.

"We should not lose more of the future of Africa because of AIDS," said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. "Addressing HIV effectively among children and adolescents requires solid, quality health services, and by committing to universal health coverage, countries can accelerate progress towards an AIDS-free generation in West and Central Africa."

Although there have been advances in the coverage of antiretroviral therapy for children in West and Central Africa, from 18% in 2014 to 26% in 2017, the region still has the coverage of the weakest in the world. Around 52,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 19 died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2017, of which 34,000 died before the age of five.

In the 2016 UN Political Declaration on the End of AIDS, countries in West and Central Africa are committed to work to reduce the number of new HIV infections among children and young adolescents (under 15 years of age) to 6,000 for 2020 and guarantee access to treatment for 340,000 children and adolescents (under 15 years old) by 2020.

However, promises to accelerate the response to HIV have not been accompanied by greater mobilization of resources. The total resources needed for an effective response in West and Central Africa were 81% higher than the funds available in 2017.

The conversion of commitments into concrete actions requires the mobilization of political and community leaders, the drastic intensification of investments, the development of innovative technologies such as the early diagnosis of newborns at the point of care and differentiated strategies for the provision of services. , including screening and long-term prescription of antiretroviral drugs, and treatment methods of HIV care and treatment services for children throughout the region.

As part of a concerted effort to accelerate the region's progress, UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO organized a high-level meeting on the elimination of HIV transmission from mother to child coverage. Pediatric HIV and pediatric health screening program in West and Central Africa to address challenges, share best practices and innovative approaches to address persistent bottlenecks, agree on corrective actions and ensure commitment to action by countries and partners

Organized by the Government of Senegal, the meeting is held in Dakar from January 16 to 18, 2019 and brings together health ministers, experts, representatives of civil society and partners from throughout the region, as well as high-level representatives. the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States.

During the meeting, countries and partners are expected to renew their commitment to the 2015 Dakar Call to Action to accelerate the elimination of new HIV infections in children and access to treatment for children and adolescents living with HIV in 2020.
* Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

Distributed by the APO Group to the United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS).

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UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO urge countries in West and Central Africa to accelerate the pace of HIV in children and adolescents

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