Children, HIV and AIDS: Regional snapshot - Middle East and North Africa (December 2018)
The Middle East and North Africa has achieved substantial success in treatment coverage for children living with HIV: 71 per cent, a higher rate than the global one of 52 per cent. But the epidemic trend in the region remains unclear, due to the lack of critical data in 14 out of 19 countries. The data that do exist indicate a low burden with limited improvement. In 2017, for example, an estimated 1,500 new HIV infections occurred among those aged 10–19, about the same number estimated every year since 2010. Slow progress also has been seen in access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV.
HIV is not a priority concern in most countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Continued lack of attention to HIV by regional policymakers, including in regard to collecting reliable data, could have economic and public health consequences if epidemics begin to increase in scope and severity, even from such a low base. One way to avoid that scenario is through the use of better information to monitor the situation.
More effective HIV responses across this region rely on strong, consistent efforts to increase knowledge and understanding of the disease in society as a whole as well as among those who remain the most vulnerable, including adolescents and key populations of all ages. Stigma surrounding the disease and those vulnerable to it is quite high, because of low levels of awareness and many people’s association of HIV with individuals considered undesirable violators of social, cultural and political conventions.