pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Some Sucess Against Children Born With AIDS in Africa

In our U S of A the problem with aids is less on most people’s mind these days than it was several years ago. That doesn’t mean that it still isn’t a whole lot on some people’s minds however.

There are places in the world where the disease is nearly all that’s on everyone’s mind – all the time. In fact they have signs on the streets saying “you’re either infected by AIDS or affected by it.”

Looking on the internet I saw a photo of a woman surrounded by kids holding a sign stating “treating AIDS with hope.” And, believe it or not, there is – even if it’s still just a “glimmer.”

Seven African Countries Cut Child HIV Rates by Half!

I put that in heading size because when you consider what it takes to get bureaucrats, government officials and infrastructure all off their respective butts and overcome their inertia this is a really, REALLY big deal.

In the worlds worst-hit region for AIDS, sub-Saharan Africa, SEVEN of them have cut the number of HIV infections in children in HALF (50%) in the past four years (2009-2013) – Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

Organizations tackling the global epidemic of children born with AIDS have targeted 21 countries across Africa for intervention. And, to put the statistics in actual numbers of babies, they report 130,000 fewer new HIV cases among children in 2012, 38% drop from 2009.

AIDS In Children

African child boy being treated for AIDS via and IVWhat has changed you ask? It’s mostly due to better and more wide spread treatment of pregnant women with the virus.

What else has changed you ask? You can give drugs all the credit if you want to; but make no mistake, it’s a change in political arrogance, corruption, attitudes, laziness and greed that has had an impact – if not the biggest impact.

Two of the countries, Angola and Nigeria, have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING since 2009. Which should be of absolutely no surprise to any intelligent person who picks up and reads at least one newspaper front page a month. If you can’t even crack the latter, there is no way to obtain the former.

In their understated, politically correct way, the UN agencies state that “we need to discover the bottlenecks and solve the problem. They’re not naïve, they already know the problem. It’s just not in their grasp yet. Nigeria has the largest number of children acquiring HIV in the whole region: 60,000 new infected children in 2012!

Children Already Infected With AIDS

Once a child is infected, drugs to keep the disease in check are, at best, sparse but pretty much entirely absent! Only three out of ten children (in the targeted countries) can get the medicines they need.

With such a disgusting shortage, the highest yield for the medicine they can get is to treat their prospective mothers. It will not only improve their mother’s health and vigor but prevents the HIV from being transmitted to them. In the most improved countries, coverage rates were above 75% for infected mothers.

The biggest kudos go to Botswana and South Africa which have reduced mother to child HIV transmission rates to 5% or less. Perhaps there is (at least some) hope after all.

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