ADDIS ABABA, 4 December 2011 - As the 16th International Conference on AIDS in Africa (ICASA) gets underway
in Ethiopia, UNICEF is appealing to governments and donors to keep up their support for HIV and AIDS programmes across the continent and
seize the opportunity to eliminate new infections among children.
"The huge investment in tackling HIV and AIDS during past years is finally paying off. Today in sub-Saharan Africa,
fewer children are born with HIV, fewer children lose their parents to AIDS and more young people know how to protect themselves
and their partners. Millions of lives have been saved and many families and communities have been kept intact", said
Elhadj As Sy, the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. "It is critical that we safeguard these
gains and meet the commitments we have made to reach all children."
Against the background of reduced funding for HIV/AIDS activities, Mr. Sy appealed to partners and decision makers to sustain
their contributions and make sure that all children, particularly the poorest and most marginalized, have access to HIV/AIDS prevention,
treatment and care.
According to the 2011 Universal Access report, 90 per cent of new infections among children still occur in sub-Saharan
Africa. The total number of 390,000 newly infected children in 2010 on the continent, however, represents a reduction by 30 per cent
compared to the peak of 560,000 new infections in 2002-2003. This has been the result of a massive roll-out of services to prevent
the transmission of the virus from mothers to their children.
Despite the progress, children continue to lag behind adults when it comes to accessing critical services, including
treatment. Between 2009 and 2010, the estimated number of children with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa who received antiretroviral
therapy (ART) rose from 296,000 to 387,500. However, they represent only a quarter of children in need compared to roughly half
of eligible adults receiving this life-saving treatment.
Recent survey data from sub-Saharan Africa also showed that only 15 per cent of young women and ten per cent of young men
aged 15 to 24 years have been tested and know their HIV status. Many adolescents and young adults are diagnosed too late to fully
benefit from treatment.
"Preventing new infections, especially among young women, must remain a critical part of our response", said Mr. Sy.
"Two thirds of young people between 15 and 24 years of age living with the virus are female. Unless we tackle the gender dimension
of the HIV/AIDS crisis, we will fail to meet our goal of reducing by half the number of new infections among young people by 2015.
We have to comply with our commitment to create an AIDS- free generation."
The ICASA meeting takes place at a pivotal moment in the HIV epidemic, when the world is closer than ever before to
ending new infections among children. UNICEF believes that funding for HIV must be regarded as an investment in the future rather
than a cost that can be cut.
NOTE TO EDITORS: UNICEF is supporting a number of sessions related to children and young people during
the ICASA conference.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The
world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and
sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation,
and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and
governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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For further information, please contact:
Sacha Westerbeek, UNICEF Ethiopia,
Tel + 251 911 255 109
Josee Koch, UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa (in Addis Ababa),
Tel + 27 83 259 0872