Children, HIV and AIDS: Regional snapshot - Eastern and Southern Africa (December 2018)
Eastern and Southern Africa is home to more than 60 per cent of children and adolescents living with HIV. This is the region where most progress in the HIV response has been made. Coverage of maternal antiretroviral treatment for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV reached 93 per cent in this region in 2017. Sustaining these gains and continuing to reach children, adolescents and women at risk and living with HIV is critical. In 2017, an estimated 120,000 adolescents aged 10–19 years and 94,000 children aged 0–9 years were newly infected with HIV. They are now part of the estimated 1.9 million children and adolescents living with HIV in the region. Despite ongoing progress, 65,000 of the region’s children and adolescents died of an AIDS-related cause in 2017.
Of the 94,000 new HIV infections among children aged 0–9 years in 2017 in Eastern and Southern Africa, the majority (51,000) occurred after birth, which reflects a failure of PMTCT programmes during breastfeeding. The ‘last mile’ towards elimination of vertical transmission relies on overcoming gaps in ongoing HIV testing, treatment and care for vulnerable mothers and their infants after birth.
Continued and accelerated progress in PMTCT programming cannot be achieved without improved HIV prevention efforts among adolescents, particularly adolescent girls and young women. The total number of annual new HIV infections among those aged 10–19 years in 2017 was only about 25 per cent lower than it was in 2010. Demographic trends indicating ongoing steep rises in adolescent populations by 23 per cent between 2018 and 2030 lend further urgency to the importance of expanded and sustained prevention efforts targeting that age group.