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Access to medicines for children living
with HIV

Did you know?

  • Without treatment, nearly a third of HIV-positive infants die by their first birthday, and half of all children born with HIV die before they are two years old.
  • In 2007, 2.1 million children under 15 years were living with HIV.
  • Of these, 680,000 needed antiretroviral treatment but only 15% of them were getting it.
  • According to UNICEF, in low- and middle-income countries, 127,300 children received ART in 2006 compared with 75,000 in 2005, an increase of 70 per cent. Yet especially in Africa, children are far behind.
  • In 2007, some 420,000 children were newly infected with HIV. The vast majority of those infections occurred during pregnancy or delivery or as a result of breastfeeding. Although the cost-effectiveness of mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention programs was demonstrated in the 1990s, children still accounted for one in six new HIV infections in 2007.
  • Only about one-third of pregnant women around the world have access to programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
  • It is difficult to diagnose HIV in infants, given the limited availability of the testing equipment necessary for children less than 18 months of age.
  • In 2007, 330,000 children under 15 died as result of AIDS-related illnesses.
  • The use of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) has dramatically reduced HIV-associated mortality and morbidity among children in resource-rich settings, but only 1% of the 2.1 million HIV-infected children live in these regions. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region and is home to nearly 90 per cent of all children living with HIV.
  • There are few pediatric ARV formulations to treat HIV in children, especially infants, and suitable to poor settings. Pediumune baby and junior are the only pediatric fixed-dose combinations approved by USFDA and qualified by WHO.
  • Basic antibiotics can reduce death of children from AIDS as much as 43% by treating opportunistic infections and delaying the point at which antiretrovirals are needed.


Take Action to Help Children Living with HIV

Young people around the world are being encouraged to take action to help children living with HIV through an action guide launched on Universal Children’s Day, 20 November. The guide, “Prescription for Life”, provides information and resources for schools, families, faith groups and communities to empower young people to write letters to pharmaceutical companies and governments to improve testing and treatment for infants and children living with HIV.

The role of government and pharmaceutical companies in helping children living with HIV

Press and Publicity

Resources for teachers and youth leaders on HIV and AIDS

Personal Stories

South African school children write government health minister for action on HIV and AIDS. Credit: Paul Jeffrey/EAA

Latest Resources

This 2009 report charts
progress towards the 2010 Universal Access targets and takes stock of the many challenges to meeting these goals.

Link (EN)

Loud and Clear: Video from the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign highlights how early infant diagnosis of HIV can save lives.

Link (EN)

Exhibit and events at the United Nations in New York on Universal Children's Day highlight children's letters to call for improved treatment for children living with HIV.

Link (EN)

Prescription for Life Resource Guide
Keep the Promise Resource