The Religious Community Working Towards Zero New HIV Infections among Children. 13/4/12

Transcribed below is the text of a UNAIDS brochure addressing the role religious communities can play to eliminate new HIV infections among children. For additional resources to reduce child infections, click here

13 April 2012

“Thanks to the universal access movement, my three children were born HIV-free and I am able to see them grow up because of treatment access.”

--Rebecca Awiti, AIDS activist and mother living with HIV

“No child should be born with HIV; no child should be an orphan because of HIV; no child should die due to lack of access to treatment.”

--Ebube Sylvia Taylor, an eleven year old born free of HIV

“All children born free of HIV and their mothers living healthily to see them grow—this is our hope and it can be our reality.”

--Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

Every year 390 000 children are born with HIV. HIV transmission can be prevented, and every child can be born free of HIV.

If a woman is living with HIV, the virus can pass to her baby during pregnancy, labour, birth, or when breastfeeding. But if she has access to comprehensive care, the risk of transmission can be reduced to less than 5%.

In high-income countries, the number of new HIV infections among children has been virtually eliminated thanks to effective HIV testing and counselling, access to antiretroviral therapy, safe delivery practices and safe infant feeding.

However in the low- and middle income countries 1000 children are born with HIV every day. Only half of all mothers living with HIV in the developing world receive antiretroviral therapy to stop their children from becoming infected with HIV.

UNAIDS believes that no child should be born with HIV and, with our partners, have launched a Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections in children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive. It is an achievable goal. But it requires leadership, passion and sustained commitment.

The involvement of the faith community is critical to achieving this goal. A significant proportion of health care for people living with HIV is provided by the faith community. Their active engagement and support for the plan is essential to its success.

Five steps religious communities can take to stop new HIV infections in children and keep their mothers alive.

1. Support women to avoid HIV infection. A mother free from HIV cannot pass on the virus to her children

2. Provide information in local faith communities encouraging and supporting couples to go together for HIV testing.

3. Support access to antenatal care and HIV testing and counselling for pregnant women and provide linkages to related health facilities and care.

4. Strengthen programmes to prevent new HIV infections in children––in line with national policies and protocols––in religiously affiliated hospitals and medical centres, particularly in rural areas.

5. Ensure coordination with national health systems addressing HIV prevention and treatment to enable pregnant women living with HIV to access the best possible antiretroviral therapy—for their own health and for their baby’s health.

Key facts:


The number of children newly infected with HIV.

3.4 million

The number of children living with HIV.


The number of HIV-related deaths among children.


The number of countries that account for 90% of all new HIV infections among children.


The percentage of mothers living with HIV who receive antiretroviral therapy to stop their children from becoming infected with the virus. 


The estimated number of mothers who die due to HIV-related causes each year.

--Data from end 2010


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