With the endeavor to end new HIV infections among children in 2015, the UNAIDs today launched a new initiative called ‘Believe it. Do it.’ to help bring attention to the goal of ending new HIV infections among children and ensure mothers living with HIV remain healthy.
“We have an amazing opportunity to change the world.” – UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe
Mr. Sidibe says the clock is ticking and the UNAIDS cannot get from 390,000 to zero without the support of the states.
According to UNAIDS, some 390,000 children become newly infected with HIV every year, and as many as 42,000 women living with HIV die from complications related to the virus and pregnancy.
The campaign ‘Believe it. Do it.’ is part of a global plan of action that was adopted in 2011 at the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS.
The campaign has three main objectives in relation to the public’s engagement on the issue: to raise awareness about the facts about ending new HIV infections among children, to send a message about the issue and the actions people can take, and to develop public support for mothers through organizations working with families.
‘Believe it. Do it.’ counts on the support of actress Naomi Watts and singer Annie Lennox, both of whom are UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassadors. They will appear in a video message produced by UNAIDS to raise awareness of the campaign, along with other actors such as Whoopi Goldberg, Blair Underwood, Denis O’Hare, Alexandra Wentworth, and journalist George Stephanopoulos.
The campaign will be featured ahead of Mother’s Day in the U.S. on 11 May on the morning television show Good Morning America. A 30-second public service announcement will also appear on CNN International as well.
Earlier this year, two programmes by business leaders today launched new intiatives to end new HIV infections in children by 2015.
The Business Leadership Council and the Social Media Syndicate initiatives both worked towards the same goal, but used different means to do so.
The Business Leadership Council focuses on eliminating new HIV infections among children in 22 countries mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and on keeping their mothers alive.
Meanwhile, the Social Media Syndicate will focus on raising awareness on HIV/AIDS and generating political will by coordinating with the most influential, individual publishers online.
Health experts agree that eliminating HIV infections among newborn babies is fully achievable by the end of 2015, but doing so will require a joint effort of the private and public sectors. Financial experts increasingly recognize the high return and cost-effectiveness of investing in disease prevention.
HIV/AIDS has claimed more than 30 million lives since the virus was first identified three decades ago.
The latest UNAIDS report released shows that an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV, nearly 20 per cent fewer than the 3.1 million people infected in 1999. In 2009, 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses, nearly one-fifth lower than the 2.1 million people who died in 2004.
According to the report, from 2001 to 2009, the rate of new HIV infections stabilized or decreased by more than 25 per cent in at least 56 countries around the world, including 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Of the five countries with the largest epidemics in the region, four countries – Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – have reduced rates of new HIV infections by more than 25 per cent, while Nigeria’s epidemic has stabilized.