Unearthing solutions: using data to reach children left behind in the AIDS response
This article was originally published on the Alliance for Philanthropy and Social Justice Investment Worldwide website.
After nearly 40 years of tireless activism, advocacy, funding and research, HIV is no longer the devastating death sentence it once was. Many people are living longer with the disease, many HIV positive mothers are not passing on the disease to their babies, and millions more adolescents are learning how to prevent HIV infection. We must certainly celebrate these life-saving and life altering milestones. But we must also be candid about where progress is lagging – and why.
To reach all children affected by HIV, we must go beyond biomedical solutions, removing the social and economic barriers between those excluded and the HIV services they most ardently need. We must build their resilience and that of their families to overcome the impacts of the disease.
Social protection – such as cash/in-kind transfers, social insurance, social services – is vital in this regard. It is already proven to reduce the risk of HIV infection (UNAIDS, 2018). What is far less documented, is the impact of social protection on bringing those living on the fringes of society into the reach of HIV testing, treatment and care. Anecdotal evidence suggests that communities have long been providing extremely vulnerable children and their families with a range of social protection supports alongside HIV services. But these efforts have gone undocumented and unnoticed.