The U.N. and the U.S. have announced the launch of a new initiative, “Countdown to Zero,” that is aimed at eliminating HIV among babies by 2015.
The new project will put in place provisions to treat HIV-positive pregnant women, which it is estimated will decrease infection of newborns to under five percent.
The estimated cost of the drive is $2.5 billion, and will seek to offer the service to 15 million women, double those currently being treated.
The plan has been developed by the UNAIDS team, in collaboration with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The initiative was devised to address the appalling statistic that currently a baby is born with HIV every minute; almost all based in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is hoped that the new campaign will see all women, and in particular pregnant women, as well as their children, be given access to life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services.
Launching the initiative, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said, “We are here today to ensure that all children are born healthy and free of disease. We are here to ensure that their mothers live to see them grow.”
The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michael Sidibe added, “We believe that by 2015 children everywhere can be born free of HIV and that their mothers can remain healthy.”
“This new global plan is realistic, it is achievable and it is driven by the most affected countries,” he concluded.
Michel Kazatchkine, head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria explained that if this goal could be achieved it would signal “the beginning of the end of the story, because that opens the prospect for an Aids-free generation.”