At UN High-level Meeting, New Global Action Plan to Combat Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Launched

A pregnan woman's belly. Participants of a U.N.-sponsored meeting on HIV/AIDS endorsed a new global action plan that focuses on keeping HIV-infected mother alive and eliminating new cases of HIV infections among children. Photo by: IRIN

Participants of a U.N.-sponsored meeting on HIV/AIDS endorsed on Thursday (June 9) a new global action plan that includes a commitment to provide HIV treatment to 15 million people by 2015.

The plan focuses on keeping HIV-infected mother alive and eliminating new cases of HIV infections among children, according to a U.N. news release.

“We are here today to ensure that all children are born healthy and free of disease. We are here to ensure that their mothers live to see them grow,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the unveiling of the plan, which is dubbed “Countdown to Zero.”

The new global action plan is backed by commitments of additional financial support from donor governments and organizations, including a $75 million pledge from the United States for the prevention of HIV transmission from mothers to their children. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $40 million, while private companies Johnson & Johnson and Chevron pledged $15 million and $20 million, respectively.

Meantime, the United Kingdom announced that it will help reduce new HIV infections by at least 500,000 million among women in Africa by 2015 as part of its contribution to global efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS.

“The main focus of the UK’s plans moving forward will be reducing new HIV infections among women and girls, ending pediatric AIDS, and addressing the TB epidemic - the leading cause of death among people living with HIV,” according to the Department of International Development, which added that the U.K. will focus future HIV assistance on fewer countries where its aid will have the greatest impact.

Key elements, timetable

According to a news release from the U.S. State Department, the key elements of the new global action plan adopted by world leaders at the high-level U.N. meeting include the following:

- Providing access to quality lifesaving HIV treatment and prevention services for all women, especially pregnant ones, and their children.- Promoting respect for the rights of women living with HIV.- Making sure there are adequate human and financial resources available from both international and national sources.

The action plan also includes a detailed timetable to ensure rapid progress toward meeting its goals, the State Department says.

Call for action

An international medical humanitarian organization welcomed the adoption of the action plan but called on world leaders and U.N. officials to take immediate action to make their targets a reality.

“By agreeing to expand HIV treatment to 15 million people in four years, governments are committing to take the latest science that treatment is prevention and turn it into policies that save lives and can stop the virus,” Sharonann Lynch, HIV/AIDS policy adviser for Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, said in a news release. “The clock starts now – everyday, we need to get more people on treatment than the day before.”

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.