160,000 Children Acquired HIV in 2021, Says WHO

By Abimbola Kintum

The World Health Organisation has said 160,000 children acquired the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 2021, and also disclosed that a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes globally.

WHO, in a Press Release, noted that ministers and representatives from twelve African countries have committed themselves, and laid out their plans, to end AIDS in children by 2030.

“Currently, around the world, a child dies from AIDS-related causes every five minutes.

“Only half (52 per cent) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, far behind adults of whom three quarters (76 per cent) are receiving antiretrovirals.

“In 2021, 160,000 children newly acquired HIV.

“Children accounted for 15 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths, despite the fact that only four per cent of the total number of people living with HIV are children,” the statement read in part.

The UN body said twelve countries with high HIV burdens -Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, have joined the alliance to ensure that the 2030 target is met.

The Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the organisation is committed to leaving no children in need of HIV treatment behind.

Dr Ghebreyesus said “More than 40 years since AIDS first emerged, we have come a long way in preventing infections among children and increasing access to treatment, but progress has stalled.

“The Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children is a much-needed initiative to reinvigorate progress. WHO is committed to supporting countries with the technical leadership and policy implementation to realise our shared vision of ending AIDS in children by 2030.”

Also, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima said “An inequality that breaks my heart is that against children living with HIV, and leaders today have set out their commitment to the determined action needed to put it right. As the leaders noted, with the science that we have today, no baby needs to be born with HIV or get infected during breastfeeding, and no child living with HIV needs to be without treatment. The leaders were clear: they will close the treatment gap for children to save children’s lives.”

The Executive Director of The Global Fund, Peter Sands said, “In 2023, no child should be born with HIV, and no child should die from an AIDS-related illness.

“Let’s seize this opportunity to work in partnership to make sure the action plans endorsed today are translated into concrete steps and implemented at scale.

“Together, led by communities most affected by HIV, we know we can achieve remarkable results.”

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