Still a Long Way from the Finish Line

At the end of 2015, many strands of work related to children, adolescents and families affected by HIV and AIDS came together: the sun setting of the Global Plan; the adoption of a new UNAIDS strategy document; and the evolution of the millennium development goals into a set of Sustainable Development Goals, to name a few. Though each of these efforts has helped to drive progress for children and families affected by the epidemic, we are a long way from the finish line. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we not forget the needs of children.

Gaps in prevention of mother-to-child rollout still leave children and adolescents vulnerable to HIV infection. Girls, in particular, account for 80 percent of new infections among adolescents in high burden countries. Children are still at significant risk to the effects of HIV by shortcomings in testing and treatment and continue to be underserved by treatment rollout. In addition, more children than ever before are growing up in HIV affected families and we know that this poses challenges for caregiving and development that can have lifelong impacts.

The reasons behind these challenges are complex, but one thing is clear: as we move forward in the New Year, there has never been a more critical time to close the gaps to achieve equity for children affected by HIV. We hope that others will join us in the effort to create a new vision for reaching all HIV affected children and we would like to highlight several upcoming opportunities for engagement. In February we will host a small meeting focused on HIV-Sensitive Care Force Planning for Children, and will be disseminating follow-up materials to share the learnings that emerge. In addition, we are soliciting abstracts for papers to be published in a special issue of AIDS Care that will coincide with the International AIDS Conference in Durban this July. And, the sixth biennial symposium co-hosted by the Coalition and the Teresa Group, “Children and HIV: Equity Now!” is taking place in advance of AIDS 2016, on July 15 and 16. See below for more information and to register.