Washington — The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), launched Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment (ACT) on August 6 during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
ACT is an ambitious $200 million initiative to double the number of children receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) across 10 priority African countries over the next two years, PEPFAR officials said in a post on the PEPFAR website August 6. This investment will enable 300,000 more children living with HIV to receive ART, according to the post.
“ACT is the right thing to do; it will save children’s lives,” said Heather Higginbottom, U.S. deputy secretary of state. “It is also the smart thing to do. Healthy children who can pursue their dreams are Africa’s future — they will grow economies, create jobs, and contribute to their families and communities for decades to come.”
In 2013, some 3.2 million children under the age of 15 were living with HIV globally — 91 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Only 24 percent are receiving ART, according to the post. Children living with HIV are one-third less likely to receive ART compared to adults. Without ART, half of the children living with HIV will die before their second birthday, and 80 percent will die before their fifth birthday.
“This situation must be changed,” said Dr. Deborah L. Birx, U.S. global AIDS coordinator. “Together, we must act swiftly, and with a focus on impact and geographic efficiency, to hasten the day when no child dies of AIDS. PEPFAR is committed to helping achieve an AIDS-free generation, and ACT is a bold step in that direction.”
ACT will target the countries with the highest burden of pediatric HIV, the lowest access to pediatric treatment and the greatest disparity in treatment coverage for children compared to adults living with HIV. The PEPFAR-CIFF partnership will jointly invest $200 million in ACT, $150 million from PEPFAR and up to $50 million from CIFF.
“We must close the alarming treatment disparity between adults and children,” said Jamie Cooper-Hohn, co-founder of CIFF, a London-based philanthropic foundation. “It is immoral not to act, especially when we now know that with treatment, children with HIV can aspire to full and healthy lives. We are committed to doing this in a way in which our investment will not only save these children, but also integrate and strengthen the broader platforms for maternal, newborn and nutrition interventions.”
“Ending pediatric AIDS is a shared responsibility, and additional partners from all sectors are encouraged to join ACT and expand its impact,” the post said.
More information on PEPFAR is available on the program website.