Time to Step Up

PRESS RELEASE: Meeting Needs of Children, Adolescents and Families Critical to Defeating AIDS in Eastern & Southern Africa

New Call to Action Outlines Action Steps Needed to Prioritize Children Affected by AIDS in the Era of the Sustainable Development Goals

July 20, 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia – Today, at the 2015 Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment & Prevention, the Regional Inter Agency Task Team on Children & AIDS (RIATT-ESA) and the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS, launched a new, evidence-based, call to action outlining the urgent steps needed to prioritize children affected by HIV and AIDS in the post-2015 development agenda. The call to action, titled Time to Step Uphighlights the pressing need to reach children, adolescents and those who care for them with necessary care and support.

“Though great progress has been made in the fight against HIV and AIDS globally, advancements for children are lagging behind,” said RIATT-ESA Chair Noreen Huni.

In 2013, only 42 percent of HIV exposed infants received early diagnostic services within the first two months of life. In addition, 190,000 children under the age of 14 died of AIDS-related causes due to lack of treatment. At the same time, meeting the needs of children, adolescents and their families — particularly in eastern and southern Africa, the regions of the world with the highest levels of HIV prevalence — is critical to defeating the disease.

But it is not just treatment and prevention that must be addressed.

“Treatments and cures won’t bring a deceased parent back to life; the long-term effects of the disease will still be felt,” said John Miller, Director of the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS. “We must better integrate the needs of children, adolescents and those who care for them into regional and national plans, and provide help to ensure optimal child and adolescent development.”

The call to action outlines eight critical action steps needed to provide children, adolescents and carers with the focused attention required to turn the tide on HIV and AIDS:

  • Scale-up access to PMTCT services
  • Scale-up paediatric testing (early infant diagnosis)
  • Increase treatment access and reduce loss to follow-up
  • Provide HIV-sensitive social protection services
  • Invest in the early years of children living affected by HIV
  • Strengthen linkages between child protection and HIV services
  • Intensify HIV prevention and treatment for adolescents
  • Strengthen support for primary caregivers and community level care providers

“Children are the most vulnerable among us and unable to advocate for themselves,” said Huni. “We must take swift action, putting the proper policies and programmes in place to ensure we reach all children affected by HIV and AIDS.”

The full call to action can be accessed here.