Despite great strides made since the early days of the HIV epidemic, the response to HIV in children still lags behind the response for adults.
Children living with HIV are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis (TB), one of the leading causes of AIDS-related deaths. In 2020, according to government statistics, 9,400 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in Côte d’Ivoire, including 800 children under the age of 14. There were 21,000 people under the age of 15 living with HIV in the country, of whom only 49% had access to antiretroviral therapy. How to correct such inequality was the question at the heart of a national consultation on pediatric HIV and tuberculosis held June 8-10 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The consultation entitled “Acting together for an AIDS-free and tuberculosis-free generation” aimed to improve the prevention and management of HIV and tuberculosis among children and adolescents in Côte d’Ivoire.
In her opening speech, Dominique Ouattara, the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, called for “the development of an ambitious roadmap which will enable Côte d’Ivoire to fulfill its commitments”. She invited all participants to engage in a dialogue on the challenges and priority actions to be taken, and to discuss the roles, responsibilities and contributions of each partner.
The consultation is part of the Faith-based Initiative, an initiative of UNAIDS and the President’s Emergency Plan for the fight against AIDS, which organizes consultations and national training in Côte d’Ivoire. Ivory, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and United Republic of Tanzania.
“The consultation made it possible to present the national situation in terms of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV and tuberculosis in children, to identify the main challenges, to outline the solutions, the priority actions and the necessary resources. to improve the national roll-out of optimal pediatric HIV and TB treatment and diagnosis, and to identify good practices to be replicated through civil society and faith-based organizations, “said Patrick Brenny, the UNAIDS Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
The 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on the Elimination of AIDS and the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free did not meet their pediatric AIDS goals. Globally, 160,000 children are estimated to have contracted HIV in 2020, far from the global target of 20,000. new modeling also showed that the COVID-19 pandemic could have a major impact on new HIV infections among children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ms. Ouattara called on the 350 participants to work towards reducing inequalities and called on all stakeholders to join forces to achieve certification of the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. “Today, in 2021, no child should die of AIDS or tuberculosis in our country,” she added.