On December 1, 2013, people throughout the world observed the 25th World AIDS Day, with the theme of “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” The first virtually AIDS-free generation is now possible thanks to advancements in treatment and prevention that prevent 99% of all pediatric infections transmitted from mother to infant during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
Worldwide improvements in treatment and prevention have lead to a 33% decrease in new HIV infections since 2001, including a 52% decrease in new HIV infections in children since 2001. There has also been a 40-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy, prolonging the healthy lives of those infected with HIV and preventing new infections. The cost of antiretroviral therapy has also been greatly reduced, from $10,000 per person per year in the mid-1990s to $140 in 2012.
Most important for creating an AIDS-free generation is providing pregnant women with access to antiretroviral medications (ARVs), both for themselves and to prevent transmission to their infants. As of 2012, 62% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to ARVs. Interventions supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are credited with preventing HIV transmission in 1 million babies. UNAIDS aims to end all new HIV infections among children by 2015. View a roadmap of the various strategies to create an AIDS-free generation.
However, despite these advances, significant work still needs to be done to reduce transmission and improve the lives of people living with HIV. From 2005 to 2012, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents ages 10 to 19 increased 50%. Additionally, children living with HIV in low- and middle-income are half as likely to receive antiretroviral therapy compared to adults in these regions. Finally, aggressive interventions are needed to halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020.