Children, HIV and AIDS: Regional snapshot - West and Central Africa (December 2018)
West and Central Africa is the region with the world’s second-highest HIV burden. While progress in the HIV response has been slow, political will is positioned to tackle the challenges. Less than half of pregnant and breastfeeding women were covered by prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services in 2017. An estimated 69,000 adolescents aged 10–19 years were newly infected with HIV in 2017, a number only 1 per cent lower than in 2010. About the same number (67,000) of estimated new HIV infections occurred among children aged 0–9 years in 2017. Paediatric HIV treatment coverage in 2017 was just 26 per cent.
West and Central Africa is home to 6 per cent of the global population, but has the second largest HIV burden; this share is likely to increase because of relatively high HIV incidence among adolescents and overall fertility in several countries. Renewed political commitment to fast-track the children and HIV response is evidenced by the launch of the Treatment Catch-Up Plans in 12 countries. The plans provide opportunities to address HIV testing as a major barrier to treatment scale-up for children, through such innovative approaches as point-of-care HIV diagnosis, family HIV testing and dual HIV/syphilis test integration.
In 2017 alone, Nigeria accounted for half of all children and adolescents living with HIV in the region, with four other countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – accounting for an additional 30 per cent of the total. The widely varying impact from country to country highlights the need for a differentiated response to improve region-wide PMTCT programming and other HIV prevention and treatment responses among children and adolescents.