New multi-country research study finds neither newborns nor their mothers are receiving appropriate treatment and care to end this needless tragedy
NEW YORK and GENEVA, May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Global and national programs to prevent vertical (mother-to-child) transmission are in disarray and governments are falling seriously short of their goals, leading to hundreds of thousands of needless HIV infections annually, according to new on-the-ground research from six countries published in the latest Missing the Target report -- "Failing Women, Failing Children: HIV, Vertical Transmission and Women's Health" -- from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), to be released during the 62nd World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
Although the drugs have been available for over a decade, two-thirds of HIV-positive pregnant women in the developing world do not receive any antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to prevent HIV transmission to infants. Worse, most of those who get drugs are treated with a therapy known to be just over 40% effective, rather than the triple-dose combination therapy that successfully prevents almost 98% of newborn HIV infections in the developed world.
"The statistics clearly show that governments of developing countries are failing to provide effective drug therapy to prevent HIV infections in newborns. Worse still, our research findings point to an unacceptable absence of a comprehensive program to prevent vertical transmission," said Aditi Sharma, coordinator of the Treatment Monitoring and Advocacy Project of ITPC. "Unless governments begin to address the fundamental barriers specific to women that stop them accessing health care services, the world will continue to miss the target of eradicating vertical transmission of HIV."
Research conducted by civil society activists in Argentina, Cambodia, Moldova, Morocco, Uganda and Zimbabwe shows that efforts to prevent vertical transmission are failing to reach the very group it was designed for -- HIV-positive pregnant women. One of the key reasons for this is that the national programs have been narrowly focused on providing antiretroviral prophylaxis and not on the other essentials -- prevention, counseling, care and treatment for women and children.
"On paper, the existing global program is a model of sound design, human rights principles and a comprehensive approach. In practice, it is a shameful demonstration of double standards and another instance of women's programming for which everyone and no one at the UN is in charge," said Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, who co-authored the report's preface.
Findings from each country demonstrate the many symptoms of the failure:
"The ITPC report adds to the growing evidence of the vital need to tackle gender inequities in order to provide universal access to health care," says Lorena Di Giano, an AIDS activist and Missing the Target team leader from Argentina.
In its recommendations, ITPC calls on UN agencies to radically improve coordination at all levels, and for governments, donors and UN agencies to publish a joint action plan to provide comprehensive vertical transmission services to those in need.
"UN agencies were instrumental in helping set the vital goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care," said Gregg Gonsalves, co-founder of ITPC. "Along with governments, they too bear responsibility for the daily toll of preventable infections in newborns and the needless deaths of women, men and children."
Specific report recommendations include:
The report, published by the Treatment Monitoring and Advocacy Project (TMAP) of ITPC, is based on research conducted in the six countries between November 2008 and January 2009. The full report is available at www.aidstreatmentaccess.org and www.itpcglobal.org.
|SOURCE International Treatment Preparedness Coalition|
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved