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Issue #4: June 2016
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Reaching All Children

Issue 4 - Summer 2016

In the AIDS community, this particular moment in time is similar to standing in the eye of a hurricane; the U.N. High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS (HLM) is behind us and the AIDS 2016 conference takes place in just a few weeks. In the meantime, we have an opportunity to consider what partners have achieved to date as well as the work that still needs to be done to reach our goals.
 
The Political Declaration that came out of the HLM identified critical targets that must be met. However, as we head into AIDS 2016, we must ensure that we hold our governments and ourselves accountable for keeping these commitments. Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is within reach, but to do so, we must first scale up access, treatment, care and support for all children and adolescents. Without starting and succeeding, our overall success is at risk.

Reaching all children requires a collaborative effort between civil society, governments and multilateral institutions. As we look toward AIDS 2016 next month, we hope to see many of you in Durban. We also hope to hear your voices as we all strive to ensure children remain an important part of the conversation.

Sincerely,
Lisa Bohmer  and Noreen Huni
Coalition Chair and Vice-Chair

Recent Highlights

Outcomes from the High Level Meeting

In evaluating the outcomes of the HLM, the Coalition is encouraged by the increased attention placed on children. In particular, we were pleased to see the following included in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS:

  • A target to have 1.6 million children on treatment by 2018
  • The importance placed on the elimination of mother to child transmission, including World Health Organization certification 
  • Consideration given to early child development, a "life course" approach and HIV-sensitive social protection
  • The need for cash transfers and psychosocial support and education
  • Focus placed on caregivers
  • Stigma elimination in reference to children

Getting to this point required an enormous amount of effort on the part of many partners in the community. With our peers, the Coalition has taken every opportunity — and created some opportunities where none existed — to relentlessly pursue the inclusion of children in the Declaration.
 
We know that the issues facing children affected by HIV and AIDS are urgent – the virus is more virulent in the early stages of life; half of all HIV positive children will die before they reach the age of two. Testing is woefully inadequate and, as a result, only 32% of children with HIV who need treatment receive it.
 
Despite this, initially, there was no category for children on the civil society task force that provided input into the drafting of the Declaration. The Coalition and partners worked aggressively to change that. Similarly, there was no plan for a UNAIDS briefing session on children until the community spoke up. The Coalition was proud to co-host the resulting conversation, helping to identify issues that should be included in the final Declaration. Finally, on the margins of the April civil society meeting, the Coalition partnered with UNICEF to host a convening intended to bring greater attention to children.
 
In addition, members of the Coalition met with UNAIDS staff working on the HLM in Geneva, following up with points to contribute to the Secretary General's report. These points were ultimately transformed into our “Key Asks for Children” backgrounder.
 
As a coalition, we know well the power of the collective. This power has been instrumental in the weeks and months leading up to the HLM. Through our own members and through partnerships with other organizations, we have been able to bring broad expertise, and have had input on a wider range of issues, than any of us would be able to on our own.
 
It must be said, however, that though we are pleased with the level of focus on children, we stand in solidarity with our civil society partners in our concern that not enough focus was placed in other critical areas including key populations, harm reduction and sexual health and reproductive rights.
 
Ultimately, however, the political declaration is only a piece of paper. What is needed most now is action. We have a window of opportunity to galvanize efforts to defeat AIDS in children and other vulnerable populations by 2020; and to defeat it altogether by 2030.

Evaluation of Community-Based Organization Support

Coalition member Dr. Lorraine Sherr is the lead author of a recently published paper, How Effective Is Help on the Doorstep? A Longitudinal Evaluation of Community-Based Organisation Support.
 
The growth of community-based organisations (CBOs) to meet the needs of families in the HIV epidemic has been well documented. There is emerging evidence as to the role of CBOs in treatment and adherence interventions. However, the evidence base for the impact on child outcomes has been slow to emerge. In the face of this need, this study explored the overall effects of CBO enrollment on a range of child outcomes.
 
The full paper is available here.
Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free: An Accelerated Approach to Ending AIDS in Children, Adolescents and Young Women by 2020

On the opening day of the HLM, UNAIDS and PEPFAR shared results from a new report, On the Fast-Track to an AIDS-free generation, highlighting what has been achieved in the five years since the rollout of Global Plan. While great progress has been made — including a 60% drop in new infections among children since 2009 and a 44% reduction in AIDS-related deaths among this very vulnerable population — one need only look at the fact that AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa to know that we have not yet won this war.
 
To ensure the fight continues, UNAIDS and PEPFAR launched an ambitious initiative to accelerate track progress being made to end AIDS in children, adolescents and young women. The Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free initiative galvanizes global momentum, builds on the progress achieved under the Global Plan and provides a roadmap for the urgent work ahead.
 

Learn more about Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free here.

Upcoming Events

Children and HIV: Equity Now! - Reaching all children in the epidemic

Registration for this two-day symposium, which is affiliated with AIDS 2016, closes Friday, June 24 at midnight EDT. Please be sure to register immediately.

HIV and AIDS still negatively affect vast numbers of children, adolescents and families. How, then, do we ensure the inclusion of those most in need — those most often missed, forgotten, or excluded — who aren’t benefitting from traditional policies, funding and programming?

In this Symposium, service providers, donors, researchers, advocates and policy leaders will discuss new evidence, ideas, and approaches through an equity-focused lens.

Register for the Symposium here. Registration is free.


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The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS · 5911 Barbados Place #103 · Rockville, MARYLAND (MD) 20852 · USA

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