World Vision Media Relations Manager
WASHINGTON (November 13, 2012) — To commemorate World AIDS Day, the United States government unveiled the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) blueprint (PDF) for how it will work to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The blueprint is a welcome demonstration that the U.S. is placing children at the front of its AIDS response, but it could fall short of meeting its goal without the proper funding support, says World Vision. The Christian humanitarian organization has HIV and AIDS programs in 60 countries.
“We applaud the U.S. Government for developing such a robust contribution in the fight against HIV and AIDS and for recognizing that prioritizing children is crucial for creating an AIDS-free generation. However, even with greater efficiencies, its success is tied to Congress fulfilling America’s funding commitments,” said Adam Taylor, vice-president of advocacy at World Vision. “If HIV and AIDS funding falls victim to the looming budget cuts, this monumental roadmap towards ending HIV and AIDS could lead to a dead end.”
World Vision is pleased that the U.S. supports the UNAIDS approach to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV to eliminate new infections in children by 2015 and to keep their children alive. Last week, UNAIDS reported the most progress being made toward reaching zero new infections is in reducing new HIV infections in children — which decreased 24% in two years from 430,000 in 2009 to 330,000 in 2011.
“With the number of annual new infections in children dropping nearly 50 percent over the past decade, evidence shows that programs focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission work,” said Martha Newsome, Global Health Director at World Vision. “This blueprint aims to continue that success, and meeting the goal of eliminating new infections in children would be a significant step toward reaching zero new HIV infections.“
“We must make both prevention and treatment for children a priority in order to reach the tipping point in the AIDS fight when the annual number of people on treatment exceeds the annual number of people newly infected. Children still lag far behind adults in access to HIV prevention and treatment. UNAIDS reports only 28 percent of children are receiving needed anti-retroviral treatment compared to 54 percent of adults,” added Newsome.
According to UNICEF 17.1 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, so it is encouraging to see the U.S. continue its leadership in supporting orphans and vulnerable children. That leadership can only be sustained by retaining the required 10 percent of AIDS funding for the care and protection of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.
“The goals outlined in this blueprint show the U.S. Government recognizes the key to success is working with community-based groups to provide not only treatment but to also reduce HIV-related stigma, to increase demand for testing and treatment services, and to provide comprehensive prevention messages, especially those messages that urge the prevention of mother-to-child transmission,” said Taylor. “We agree that these goals will only be achieved if other countries and partners share the responsibility, and we urge the U.S. to lead by example in fulfilling their commitments to put this plan to work.”
World Vision is on the front lines of the fight against HIV and AIDS, working with public-private partnerships and with faith leaders of all religions to advance HIV prevention and provide care to orphans, vulnerable children and people living with AIDS. Beginning its HIV and AIDS response in 1990 in hard-hit Rakai, Uganda and in Romania, the organization expanded its efforts globally over a decade ago through its Hope Initiative, reaching vulnerable communities and households through advocacy, prevention and home- and community-based care for orphans and the chronically ill.
World Vision’s current HIV and AIDS strategy aims to mobilize the commitment, capacity and resources needed to scale-up community-based approaches to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Each year, World Vision reaches one million orphans and children vulnerable to the effects of AIDS. Through the Channels of Hope program, the agency has worked with more than 350,000 faith leaders to teach them about HIV, eradicate stigma, and encourage their leadership to serve their communities and countries.
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World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews