Tag Archives: Agence France-Presse

Birth of one millionth HIV-free baby!

pregnant

Global AIDS Coordinator, Eric Goosby, has revealed that somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa this month, the one millionth baby will be born without HIV to a HIV positive mother.

This threshold, according to Goosby, is due largely in part to a decade-old aid programme – U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known by its acronym PEPFAR.

With this record, agency report Tuesday indicated that it is yet another remarkable step in the long fight against HIV and AIDS, as the United States and its global partners work towards what they call an AIDS-free generation, which just a decade ago would have been unimaginable.

Mother-to-baby transmission has long been a source of concern among governments and organisations working to control the spread of HIV.

But more effective anti-retroviral drugs and regimens are now dramatically cutting the chances of an infected mother passing on the disease to her baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

The millionth baby born HIV-free was Tuesday trumpeted as part of celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the PEPFAR.

The biggest fall in transmission rates from mom to infant came since 2009, Goosby told Agence France Presse (AFP).

The programme was working to “virtually eliminate pediatric HIV by 2015 and keep their mothers alive,” he said, with aim of reducing the number of babies born with the infection to around 30,000 yearly.

This is “a significant flag for PEPFAR” which works in 36 countries in partnership with UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), he added, pointing to all the difficulties in reaching women in rural, poor and remote areas of the world.

This involves not just identifying the mother, but getting her on a drugs programme and keeping her in treatment through that pregnancy and any later pregnancies – not always an easy task in rural Africa.

Once the chances of a mother infecting her baby stood at around 30 per cent, but now with the launch of a cocktail of three anti-retroviral drugs that has dropped to only about two per cent, Goosby said.

In the absence of a medical breakthrough leading to a cure, experts are working towards a so-called “tipping point” when fewer people contract HIV every year than the number of people going onto treatments.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, hosting Tuesday’s ceremony, was also to announce that some 13 countries, from Botswana to Zimbabwe, were close to that all important “tipping point.”

In Ethiopia and Malawi, the ratio of new HIV infections to the increase of patients on treatment is just 0.3. The figures are startling.

Ethiopia – which with a population of 84.7 million – for instance registered only 11,000 new cases of HIV in adults in 2011.

Launched under former president George W. Bush, PEPFAR was an initial commitment of some $15 billion over five years aimed specifically to provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIV infected people.

That has risen to a budget of about $5.5 billion annually, including its contribution to the Global Fund — the world’s largest financing organization of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

And although some 1.7 million people still die every year from AIDS-related illnesses, PEPFAR supports more than 5.1 million on treatment programs.

The programme estimates that worldwide more than 16 million children are living without one or both parents who have succumbed to AIDS, while millions more are left vulnerable with their parents chronically ill.

“With the PEPFAR program we’ve been able to very specifically target 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa which make up about 85-90 percent of the pediatric burden on the planet,” said Goosby.

Globally new HIV infections have fallen some 19 percent in the past decade, and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 26 percent since a peak in 2005.

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe via email

Nobel laureate, discoverer of HIV, says a cure for HIV is in sight!

Photo: REUTERS/Bob Strong
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is the Nobel laureate who co-discovered the HIV virus.

The Nobel laureate who helped to discover HIV says a cure for AIDS is in sight following recent discoveries, in an interview with AFP ahead of AIDS 2012, the global conference for HIV.

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 as part of a team that discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), said scientific research was zeroing in on a cure for the illness.

She cited a patient in Berlin who appears to have been cured through a bone marrow transplant, “which proves that finding a way of eliminating the virus from the body is something that is realistic.”

Interested in that story? – it’s fascinating, here’s the links :

Other sources of optimism are the small minority of patients — less than 0.3 percent — who exhibit no symptoms of the virus without ever receiving treatment; and a small group in France who received antiretroviral drugs and now live without treatment or symptoms, Barre-Sinoussi said.

“There is hope… but don’t ask me for a date because we do not know.”

She also said that it would be possible “in principle” to eliminate the AIDS pandemic by 2050, if barriers to drug access could be eliminated.

The main barriers there were not scientific but political, economic and social, she said: the problem was lack of access to testing and drugs in poor and rural areas, as well as the stigma around the virus, which undermines early detection and treatment.

Some 25,000 people — including celebrities, scientists and HIV sufferers — are expected in the US capital on Sunday to call for more strident global action to address the three-decade AIDS epidemic.

Deaths and infections are down in the parts of the world most ravaged by the disease, while the number of people on treatment has risen 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, reaching eight million people in needy countries.

However this is only about half the people who should be on treatment worldwide, suggesting much more remains to be done.

More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, a higher number than ever before, and around 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes since the disease first emerged in the 1980s, according to UNAIDS.

STAY UPDATED
Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe via email