Hill Briefing Brings Attention to Elimination of Pediatric AIDS
December 3, 2010
To mark World AIDS Day, the Foundation hosted a packed briefing on Capitol Hill yesterday with the Global Health Council titled “Elimination of Pediatric AIDS: Creating a Generation Free of HIV.” Four experts spoke to the importance of scaling up prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, best practices for implementation, and the challenges the global community is facing.
Packed briefing room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Dr. Chewe Luo, Senior Adviser of the Scale-Up Cluster at UNICEF, first gave an overview of the epidemic as it relates to mothers and infants. Dr. Luo reviewed the latest global estimates – more than 1,000 new pediatric HIV infections every day and only 53% of HIV-positive pregnant women receive antiretroviral drugs to prevent transmission of HIV to their infants, which represents progress but nonetheless a tremendous need. Luo emphasized that there is a human face to these statistics, and talked about how the global community is rallying around the ambitious goal of virtually eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. To reach this goal, UNICEF is targeting its efforts on the highest burden countries and developing new ways to reach the hardest to reach women with life-saving services.
Dr. Luo was followed BY Robert Clay, Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS, Bureau for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who discussed how USAID and the President’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) are contributing towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. He explained that the U.S. has begun investing in what they are calling “smart integration” to help achieve results and create sustainable programs. USAID wants to build on lessons learned from decades of U.S.-funded global health programming and focus integration efforts on areas that will create long-term lasting results for individuals as well as the health of that nation – such as PMTCT.
Dr. Charles Holmes, Chief Medical Officer, Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) then reviewed progress to date as a result of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He reported that in FY 2010, PEPFAR provided ARVs to 600,000 pregnant women living with HIV, averting 114,000 new pediatric infections. While the numbers showed progress, Dr. Holmes also emphasized that coverage and quality of services must continue to improve over time. He discussed efforts by OGAC to review its PMTCT program and provide additional resources to a handful of countries to overcome bottlenecks and remove barriers to PMTCT services.
Foundation VP of Program Implementation Anja Giphart (far
left) discusses scale-up of PMTCT services in Tanzania.
Lastly, our own Anja Giphart, Vice President of Program Implementation, shared the Foundation’s story and provided an implementer’s perspective on PMTCT scale-up to date and what needs to be done on the ground if we truly want to achieve elimination of pediatric AIDS. As a former director for the Foundation's country programs in Tanzania, Giphart talked about the Foundation’s experience in the country, where government support and integration with reproductive and child health services helped drive scale-up of PMTCT. She also stressed the importance of going beyond the medical intervention and engaging on the community level – not only does community engagement help build local ownership, but community programs help create demand for services, combat stigma, and improve participation of HIV-positive women.
Catherine Connor is the Foundation’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy in Washington, D.C.