Plan aims to end HIV in kids by 2015
New York - World leaders launched a global plan on Thursday with the goal of ensuring that every baby is born HIV-free by 2015 - and that their HIV mothers live to raise them.
The UN says nearly every minute a baby is born with HIV. In 2009, that meant 370 000 children were infected with HIV, almost all in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.
At the UN's high-level meeting on Aids, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined other leaders to launch the roadmap to achieve the goal of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV in the next four years.
"We believe that by 2015 children everywhere can be born free of HIV and that their mothers can remain healthy," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, the UN agency fighting the disease. "This new global plan is realistic, it is achievable and it is driven by the most affected countries."
US Global Aids Co-ordinator Eric Goosby called preventing new HIV infections in children a "smart investment".
"Working together, we can reverse this tide as we have done in the United States and they are very close to doing in Botswana," he said.
The plan - "Countdown to Zero" - was developed by team led by UNAIDS and the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, which Goosby heads. The team included representatives from more than 30 countries and 50 organisations.
The plan includes ensuring that all pregnant women have access to quality lifesaving HIV prevention and treatment services for themselves and their children and that there are adequate financial resources and trained health staff to meet the goal.
In 2009, the UN said an estimated 42 000-60 000 pregnant women died because of HIV almost all of them in developing countries. In high-income countries the number of new HIV infections was virtually zero and the number of child and maternal deaths due to HIV was also almost zero.
Ban said the developed world has shown that "there is every reason to believe that we can save millions of lives across the developing world".
Lower drug prices
Former US president Bill Clinton told the crowd of several hundred leaders, diplomats, Aids activists and people living with HIV that "just 22 countries account for 90% of paediatric infections".
He called for lower drug prices and strong political leadership to ensure that everyone works together to meet the goal.
The launch of the Global Plan, as it is known, sparked a number of new contributions: an additional $75m from the US on top of the approximately $300 million it already provides annually, $40m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $20m from Chevron and $15m from Johnson & Johnson.