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UNICEF's Work: HIV

Great Achievements Have Been Made in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

New infections among children under 15 years old dropped 35% globally between 2009 and 2012. 850,000 new HIV infections among children (0-14 years) in low-and middle-income countries were prevented between 2005 and 2012.

Programs that place mothers at the center of efforts to prevent HIV in children have put the elimination of mother-to-child transmission within reach. 62% of pregnant women living with HIV in the highest HIV burden countries received services to prevent mother-to-child transmission in 2012.

Still, the scale-up of treatment for children living with HIV is still too slow, and reductions in new HIV infections among adolescents have been modest. Key facts:

  • Children under 15 years old are only half as likely as adults to receive the lifesaving treatment they need.
  • 260,000 new HIV infections occurred among children in low and middle-income countries in 2012.
  • Without treatment, one third of infants living with HIV will die before their first birthday. Half will die before their second birthday
  • 300,000 new HIV infections occurred among adolescents in 2012; 2.1 million adolescents (10-19 years) were living with HIV.
  • AIDS-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50% between 2005 and 2012.

An AIDS-Free Generation Can Become Reality 

For the first time in the history of the epidemic we have the knowledge and tools to achieve an AIDS-free generationWe have the tools and the know-how to make this objective a reality. UNICEF is working to achieve an AIDS-free generation by:

  • Ensuring the health of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV
  • Making sure that children have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART)
  • Focusing on prevention and treatment during adolescence, so that children remain AIDS-free in the second decade of life
  • Ensuring social protection and child protection, care and support through the first two decades of life

On November 29th, UNICEF released Children and AIDS: Sixth Stocktaking Report, 2013. The report focuses on the response to HIV and AIDS among children in low-and middle-income countries and identifying key strategies to accelerate access to HIV prevention, treatment, protection, care and support for children and adolescents. Read the full report here.

Breaking the Cycle 

The AIDS epidemic began over 25 years ago, and the disease continues to prey upon millions of children around the world. More than 260,000 children became newly infected with HIV / AIDS in 2012. 

This disease affects non–infected children as well—many are left orphaned or grow up in communities overwhelmed by the disease. To protect children from the devastation of AIDS, UNICEF employs a multifaceted approach that includes: 

  • high-impact HIV prevention, treatment and care for adolescents
  • prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT)
  • increasing empowerment and reducing vulnerability through programs for HIV-affected adolescents 
  • addressing gender-based violence and gender inequalities
  • equitable quality education including comprehensive HIV knowledge
  • human rights advocacy and the promotion of enabling laws and policies
  • prioritizing at-risk adolescents who are at higher risk of HIV exposure

Related HIV / AIDS Links

March 5, 2013

UNAIDS and UNICEF Welcome News of a Baby Born with HIV “Functionally Cured” through Treatment

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and UNICEF welcome a new case study, which found that a baby treated with antiretroviral drugs in the first 30 hours of life and who continued on treatment for 18 months, appeared to be functionally cured. The findings were presented today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Atlanta, Georgia. According to researchers, the mother who was living with HIV at the time of birth had not received antiretroviral medication or prenatal care.

November 28, 2012

On World AIDS Day, More Pregnant Women and Children Must Get Treatment

New HIV infections in children are down, but reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires treating more pregnant women and children living with HIV, UNICEF said today. Thanks to remarkable global commitment, the world has seen a 24% reduction in new HIV infections in children—from 430,000 in 2009 to 330,000 in 2011. Approximately 100,000 more children received antiretroviral treatment in 2011 than the previous year. Despite this progress, less than 1/3 of children and pregnant women are receiving the treatment they need.

September 14, 2012

Mothers' Support Group in Tanzania Works to Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

A group of HIV-infected mothers and their partners have formed a mothers’ support group in the United Republic of Tanzania. Learn more.

Global HIV/AIDS Response

2011 HIV Report

Click here to view the 2011 Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Response, or right click to save it to your desktop.

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