UNAIDS, PEPFAR Announce Campaign To Eliminate MTCT Of HIV By 2015

A team led by UNAIDS and PEPFAR on Thursday at the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS announced a plan to virtually eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015 by “ensur[ing] that all women, especially pregnant ones, have access to quality life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services – for themselves and their children,” BBC News reports (6/10).

UNAIDS officials said about $500 million currently is spent on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), but an additional $2.5 billion would be needed by 2015 to achieve the campaign’s goal of reducing the rate of transmission to less than 5 percent, Reuters reports (Worsnip, 6/9). According to a UNAIDS press release, PEPFAR announced an additional $75 million for PMTCT efforts, on top of the approximately $300 million the initiative already provides for such activities. Also, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $40 million to the campaign, Chevron committed to $20 million, and Johnson & Johnson promised $15 million (6/9).

In a post on State’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby said eliminating MTCT was “achievable,” adding, “In the United States and Europe, pediatric AIDS is now an artifact of history. Yet, in many countries, nearly one baby is born with HIV every minute, despite us having the know-how to prevent it.” He also outlined the plan’s key elements (6/9).

Also at the meeting, a draft version of the summit accord obtained by Agence France-Presse sets a target of more than doubling the number of people living with HIV in developing countries who are receiving antiretroviral therapy to 15 million by 2015. Currently, about 6.6 million people in those countries, mainly in Africa, are on treatment, the news service notes. The summit declaration, to be officially released on Friday, “does not make specific new funding commitments, however, and overall financing fell in 2009 and 2010, according to health groups,” AFP writes (Witcher, 6/9).