ITALY – Transforming the Future: Successes and Challenges in Paediatric AIDS Care in Africa
On 6 December 2023, Friends of the Global Fund Europe and the DREAM programme of Sant’Egidio Community organized the conference ‘Transforming the Future: Successes and Challenges in Paediatric AIDS Care in Africa’, supported by the President and Secretary of the Social Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. The seminar brought together world-renowned experts and parliamentary representatives to discuss the progress and persistent challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS among children in Africa.
In recent years, significant progress has been made in the field of paediatric HIV/AIDS. Globally, the international community has witnessed a substantial increase in the rate of AIDS treatment in children from 16% to 54% from 2010 to 2020. This improvement led to a more than proportional reduction in AIDS mortality among children, which fell from 240,000 to 99,000 over the same period.
A crucial aspect of progress is increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs and medical treatment for HIV-positive children in Africa. Initiatives such as Sant’Egidio’s DREAM programme and support from the Global Fund have played a key role in improving this accessibility. Raising awareness about mother-to-child transmission of HIV has also had a major impact, significantly reducing the number of infected newborns.
Professor Stefano Vella Vice-Chair of Friends of the Global Fund Europe, Giovanni Guidotti from the DEAM programme and Françoise Vanni from the Global Fund agreed on the successes that have improved access to anti-retroviral drugs and medical treatment for HIV-positive children in Africa.
They also stressed the need to overcome structural and social barriers that prevent universal access to treatment. Recent data were presented at the conference showing that around 1.5 million children are living with HIV globally, with only 57% receiving the necessary treatment. This discrepancy compared to the 77% of adults in treatment underlines the need to address the specific challenges in paediatric treatment.
President Hon. Cappellacci, one of the main promoters of the event, expressed optimism and determination: « We have seen significant progress in tackling paediatric HIV/AIDS, but there is still a long way to go. This conference is an opportunity to join forces and accelerate efforts to ensure that no child has to suffer from this preventable and treatable disease. »
Hon. Paolo Ciani, Secretary of the Social Affairs Commission and co-organiser of the event, stressed the importance of the international commitment: « The fight against paediatric HIV/AIDS requires global collaboration. Italy, through its G7 Presidency, has the responsibility to lead and support international efforts to tackle this discrimination. »
In conclusion, the conference reaffirmed the importance of shared commitment and a multidimensional approach to addressing paediatric HIV/AIDS. The event sent a message to the upcoming Italian G7 to address disparities in paediatric HIV/AIDS treatment through global efforts and to identify effective strategies to reduce its impact on child health.