Eliminate Pediatric HIV Transmission and Keep Mothers Alive

A Bold New Plan To Eliminate Pediatric HIV Transmission

and Keep Mothers Alive

Today, I was proud to participate in an historic moment in the global HIV response. Standing with former President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and many others, we joined forces toward an ambitious, yet achievable, goal — ending pediatric AIDS and keeping mothers alive around the globe.

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.

Ensuring that all babies are born HIV-free must be a global priority, and not left to a lottery of geography. Children everywhere deserve a healthy start in life. And they deserve a mother, not just to help bring them into the world, but to help raise them and care for them.

As we have learned from 30 years of struggle, extraordinary things happen when we work together. By uniting around our common humanity and our shared responsibility, we can change, not just the course of the epidemic, but the course of history for families and communities around the world.

Not long ago, many said that HIV treatment for people in Africa was not possible. Many thought that actions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV would not work in resource-poor settings. Well, we have shown the world that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

At the UN event, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe and I unveiled a Global Task Team report to put us on the path towards ending pediatric AIDS. This report is the result of a 60-day effort — it is the first step, and a significant one, in charting a course towards our ultimate goal of children being born HIV-free by 2015.

In reviewing the plan, it is important to focus on its key elements:

First, the plan focuses on national ownership. There are 22 countries which carry 90 percent of the global MTCT burden. All of them were an integral part of this team — and this plan reflects their views. Countries must lead the response, with the rest of the world right beside them, supporting their national plans through financial and technical assistance.

Second, the plan calls for unified action. The Plan calls for leadership at all levels — including by communities, governments, civil society, people living with HIV, faith- and community-based organizations, bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, and others. Everyone has a role to play. Without contributions from all, and greater coordination by all, our goals will remain elusive. If we work together, and build bridges between those working on AIDS, maternal and child health, and women and girls, we can maximize the synergies and enhance our collective impact.

And finally, the plan includes ambitious but achievable targets to chart our progress. By stressing the dual principles of shared responsibility and specific accountability, the Plan will help us hold ourselves and each other accountable.

I am proud to note PEPFAR has long been a leader in this effort. In 2010 alone, PEPFAR directly supported PMTCT efforts for more than 600,000 pregnant women living with HIV, allowing more than 114,000 infants to be born HIV-free. These are the highest PMTCT results of any year in PEPFAR’s seven-year history.

And I was pleased to announce that PEPFAR will dedicate an additional $75 million to PMTCT efforts. This funding will be on top of the approximately $300 million that PEPFAR already provides annually for PMTCT.

Because this Global Plan is a global call to Take Action, I was particularly gratified by the immediate support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Chevron and Johnson & Johnson. I was also pleased to premiere a new trailer from Warner Bros. that we hope will inspire all Americans to support our efforts to save more lives. You can watch the trailer in the video player above.

Through the Global Health Initiative and PEPFAR, the Obama Administration has put maternal and child health at the forefront of its global health agenda. We believe that healthy families build healthy communities and more secure nations.

None of us can do this alone.
But together, we can help ensure that our children are born HIV-free.

By Eric Goosby, Ambassador, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

. (Cross-posted from State Department Blog).

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