UNAIDS Chief Calls For Reducing MTCT Of HIV In Africa

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe on Monday during a five-day trip in Kenya, called for a drastic reduction in mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, Capital News reports. “In our continent we still have 400,000 babies born every year with HIV and we know if we are capable of making sure that testing will become available universally to all our pregnant women, (and) that pregnant women also have access to treatment, we will prevent the transmission,” Sidibe said (Karong’o, 1/11).

During his address, Sidibe highlighted the success of a U.N.-backed program, called the Millennium Villages Projects (MVP), that is working to achieve this goal, Xinhua/People’s Daily Online writes. Sidibe is in Kenya along with U.N. special advisor Jeffrey Sachs to survey the MVP and “to witness the first hand progress that has been made in fighting poverty, boosting agricultural productivity, increasing access to health care and education, and creating an enabling environment for communities to build and sustain economic growth,” the news service writes (1/12).

The villages – made possible through a partnership between the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), the Earth Institute at Columbia University and local governments – offer HIV testing services to pregnant mothers and antiretroviral drugs and after delivery, integrated into the maternal-child health care package, the U.N. News Centre reports (1/11). According to Sidibe, the rates of HIV testing among pregnant women in MVP have increased from 10 percent to over 60 percent in three years, Xinhua/People’s Daily Online writes (1/12).

“We have seen that it is possible to virtually eliminate infant HIV infections in high-income countries through HIV testing of pregnant women, contraception, and the use of antiretroviral drugs during and after delivery,” Sidibe said during a stop to an MVP in Sauri, Kenya, according to the U.N. News Centre. “Now we must apply the knowledge and tools to create an AIDS-free generation in Africa and the rest of the world” (1/11).

In Nairobi, Sidibe and Sachs called on the international community to increase funding for measures to prevent MTCT of HIV, Newstime Africa reports. The article includes information on countries involved in the MVP and future plans for the program (Mwaura, 1/11).

PlusNews reports examines efforts to use “unconventional health workers and new technologies” for prevention. “We cannot wait for the highest cadre of health professionals to be trained before expanding our capacity to prevent mother-to-child transmission,” Sibide said. “We have to tap into non-conventional capacity to help expand access to health services.” The article examines how short message services (SMS) and community health workers can be used to target and serve those in need of medical service (1/11).

Kenyan President Outlines Government Commitment To Fight HIV/AIDS

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday during a meeting with Sibibe highlighted the government’s commitment to the fight HIV/AIDS, pointing to the country’s efforts to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and increase the number of Kenyans on antiretroviral therapy, Kenya Broadcast Corporation reports.”The President pointed out that the Government is committed to enacting a National AIDS Control Agency Act before the end of 2010 to strengthen coordination and accountability for resources,” according to the news service (1/12).

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