THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Burundi commits to halting new HIV infections among children

A high-ranking government official in Burundi said on Wednesday the government is committed to stopping new HIV infections from occurring among children, according to the United Nations.

Burundi's Second Vice-President Gervais Rufykiri made the statement during a recent event marking the country's National AIDS Day on Wednesday. Michael Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, made an official visit to the country for the occasion.

"AIDS is a strategic entry point for advancing Burundi's social agenda at several levels: protecting women, children and human rights," Sidibé said.

Burundi committed to stopping new HIV infections among children and preserving the lives of their mothers as well. The government committed to bringing Burundi to zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination.

In 2010, HIV prevalence in Burundi was 1.4 percent with more than 98,000 people living with HIV in 2011. Only 49 percent of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy in Burundi have access to the medication. In 2011, approximately 2,000 babies were born with HIV.

The government promised to improve treatment coverage, particularly for pregnant women living with HIV. Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza recently adopted a decree aiming to significantly scale-up services to stop new HIV infections among children.

In 2011, UNAIDS and other partners launched its Global Plan to make progress toward the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and to keep their mothers alive. The Global Plan focuses on 22 countries, including Burundi, where 90 percent of new HIV infections among children take place.