The project seeks to provide integrated health services for HIV-infected mothers at risk for transmitting HIV to their infants. By coordinating prevention and treatment strategies, the initiative will fill gaps in family health care systems, including the provision of antiretroviral therapy when needed. Expanding current programs and strengthening public-private partnerships will allow the Family AIDS Initiative to reach at least 200,000 pregnant women with HIV counseling and testing over three years.
Around the world, more than 1,800 children become infected with HIV every day, and an estimated 90 % as a result of mother-to-child transmission. WHO estimates that fewer than ten percent of pregnant women have access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services, which can reduce HIV transmission to infants by 50% or more with the simplest intervention. Low PMTCT coverage rates have resulted in approximately 650,000 newly infected children in 2005. A majority of the estimated 570,000 children under age 15 who died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2005 did not receive an HIV diagnosis or HIV care (including access to medicines). Without care and treatment, an estimated 35% of infected children will die by one year, 50% by the age of two years, and 60% by the age of three years.
Prevention and treatment programs for HIV have developed in response to the epidemic's devastating impact worldwide. However, while programs for prevention and care have scaled up, they have not succeeded in reaching the majority of women and children still in need of services. Systematic access to PMTCT services wherever antiretroviral therapy is available can help change this situation, as can improving access to clinical care. Similarly, by ensuring that facilities offering care and treatment (including urgently needed antiretroviral drugs) also offer PMTCT services, we can extend the lives of children and adults living with HIV. To help keep families intact and communities strong, we must link our efforts in prevention and care.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is reaching 800,000 pregnant women annually with HIV counseling and testing in 19 countries through our prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs. The Foundation has also expanded programs for care and treatment for families, with an estimated 90,000 people set to receive antiretroviral medication by the end of 2006. Following this scale-up, the Foundation will integrate efforts to address gaps in the continuum of prevention and care for families.