Carla Bruni-Sarkozy echoed UNAIDS call to virtually eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 while addressing the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and leaders at a side event to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The President of Burkina Faso Mr Blaise Compaoré and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Mr Meles Zenawi co-chaired the event. Following an UNAIDS press release.
“Around the world only a third of women living with HIV receive the necessary treatment to prevent the transmission. Isn’t it an immense injustice, that thousands of children still are born with HIV, when treatment exists, when no baby needs to be born with HIV?” asked the First Lady of France and the Global Fund’s Ambassador for the protection of mothers and children against AIDS. Ms Bruni-Sarkozy called on global leaders to double the number of HIV-positive pregnant women who receive effective antiretroviral treatment within 18 months.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a more ambitious approach: “We have effective drugs. There is no reason why any mother should die of AIDS. There is no cause for any child to be born with HIV,” he said. “If we work hard enough we can virtually eliminate mother-to-child transmission.”
Community member Christina Rodriguez, 17 years-old, from New York called for access to services for young people, and shared a moving personal testimony from Keren Gonzalez, 13 years-old, from Honduras, who could not attend the meeting. Morolake Odetoyinbo from Nigeria highlighted the importance of provinding treatment, care and support for mothers living with HIV so that they can stay alive and take care of their children, and called for urgent leadership to deliver on this life-saving commitment.
Other leaders participated in the event including President Sarkozy of France, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Prime Minister Balkenende of the Netherlands, as well as First Ladies of several countries.
Countries will work with the Global Fund, UNAIDS and UNICEF support to ensure rapid scale-up of programmes to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to children. The Global Fund will support the switch from single-dose Nevirapine to more effective dual and triple therapy regimens in the next 18 months. More emphasis and funds will be applied to comprehensive programmes addressing reproductive health and the strengthening of maternal and child health services.
Executive Director Michel Sidibé UNAIDS has made the prevention of mothers from dying and babies from becoming infected with HIV a priority and it is one of the nine priority areas in the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011.
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