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1.4m new HIV infections averted among children in Nigeria

Tremendous advances have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS globally as about 1.4 million new HIV infections among children under 15 have been averted since 2010, an HIV/AIDS Specialist with UNICEF in Kaduna, Dr. Idris Baba, has said. 

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Dr. Baba disclosed this at a media meeting on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and Adolescents and Young Persons (AYP) support in Kaduna  State.

He said 80 per cent of pregnant women with HIV were now receiving effective treatment as a result of which the number of new infections in children had been reduced by one third; from 270,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2017.

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He said the proportion of children receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) had doubled from 22 per cent in 2010 to 52 per cent in 2017, and lamented that millions of women, children and adolescents were still not being reached. 

“An adolescent girl is newly infected with HIV every three minutes. In 2017, 180,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV, nearly 91per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“An estimated 1.8 million adolescents  aged 10 to 19 years were living with HIV worldwide in 2017. Only 1/2 of HIV-exposed babies are tested for HIV within the recommended time period, while  three million children aged 0 to 19 are living with HIV and half (52 per cent) of children under 15 are accessing ART,” he said. 

He said drivers of the epidemic among adolescents and young persons in Nigeria included behavioural, socio-economic, traditional, religious, cultural factors, among others. 

He, however, noted that the steady number of adolescent deaths due to AIDS, combined with a growing population of the world’s children aged 0 to 19, which is projected to increase to 2.7 billion by 2030, required partners in the HIV response for children and adolescents to refocus effort and redouble investment.

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