Initiative launched to improve diagnosis of infant HIV in Africa

Initiative launched to improve diagnosis of infant HIV in Africa | Courtesy of
UNITAID and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) recently launched an initiative to improve the diagnosis of HIV in newborns in nine African countries.

These organizations have partnered with ministries of health to test more widely to detect HIV early in life. These infants have the highest risk of dying from AIDS, and detecting these infections earlier will help health officials administer lifesaving treatments as quickly as possible.

“Every day, 600 children become newly infected with HIV,” EGPAF President and CEO Charles Lyons said. “If we want these children to grow up and lead healthy, productive lives, we must put them on treatment as soon as possible. Being able to do that requires that infants, especially those in rural, underserved communities, have increased access to testing that is efficient, accurate and -- most importantly -- accessible. Through our new partnership with UNITAID, we can quickly identify and test infants who are at-risk as early as possible and reduce turnaround times for test results. A shorter window of time between testing and treatment means more infant lives will be saved.”

In addition, the project will provide point-of-care diagnosis in several child-centered services, like pediatric clinics. These clinics frequently don’t have HIV testing available.

“The world has set an ambitious target of identifying 90 percent of those living with HIV by 2020. This is achievable, but only if we continue to find innovative new ways to work,” UNITAID Executive Director Lelio Marmora said. “Scaling up the use of new, better-performing diagnostic tools to find those infected before, during or after childbirth will make an important contribution to reaching this goal, and this is what UNITAID is focused on achieving.”

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