WITH 3.4 million people on antiretroviral therapy (ART), South Africa has the largest HIV treatment programme in the world. By 2015, an estimated 95% of HIV-positive pregnant women and 75% of HIV-infected children were accessing ART.
Announcing clear targets over the next five years, South Africa’s Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, noted that “we can win this battle.” Minister Motsoaledi was addressing a satellite session on the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS (EMTCT), co-hosted by UNICEF and the National Department of Health at the International AIDS Conference taking place in Durban. The session shared achievements of South Africa since 2000 in the journey towards EMTCT and, through experts in the field, showcased the leadership, research engagement and innovative policies and programs that have supported this effort. Delegates were informed that partnerships on the ground, engaging women and children, adolescents and young people, families and communities, local leaders and role models, media and the private sector all contributed to this accelerated national HIV response along with financial investments, political leadership and commitment at the highest level.
UNICEF’s Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake commended the successes of the South African programme and noted that “if we fail now to win the battle then there is one reason for this, and that is that we stopped trying. The job is not yet done but it can be.”
The session concluded with a clarion call for joint action on the “last mile for EMTCT network,” a virtual platform aims to bring together, under the leadership of the South African government, UN, development and implementing partners, academia, civil society, media and the private sector, a collective effort towards the goal of ‘No child born with HIV’ in South Africa.