Barbara LeeRecent action has been taken on a resolution in Congress that will further the United States’ role in recognizing and ending the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in children around the world. Resolution 593, “Recognizing the importance of a continued commitment to ending pediatric AIDS and HIV worldwide,” was introduced to the House by Representative Barbara Lee, a Democratic and representative of California. The resolution brings to light the ubiquity of the AIDS disease and the prevalence of HIV in children living in disenfranchised parts of the world.

According to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, HIV affects children’s immune systems differently than adults due to their lack of development. Children living with HIV get sick more often than adults as well as more severely. Currently, half of the people living with the HIV virus (the pathogen that causes AIDS) worldwide are women and children. The disease is also the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age.

Additionally, over 400 children were born HIV positive each day in 2016. This number has been cut in more than half since 2001. Less than half of children with HIV will receive antiretroviral therapy, which is far below the percentage of adults who will receive treatment. This has led to 120,000 children dying of AIDS-related causes in 2016. Through this legislative action, the United States has recommitted to leading the world in ending the pediatric AIDS crisis and eliminating new pediatric HIV infections throughout the world.

The resolution noted the astounding achievements made in the last two decades thanks to the United States’ role in AIDS and HIV prevention and treatment. In 2016, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PERFAR) supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 11 million pregnant women. The plan also announced the Accelerating Children’s Treatment Initiatives that aimed to double the amount of treatment for children with HIV over the two years following its initiation in 2014.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as expected, as well as to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. There are currently 18 cosponsors of the resolution, including representative leaders from Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Georgia, Illinois and Maryland. If it passes, it will be a vital part of the continued fight against pediatric AIDS worldwide.

Melanie Snyder
Photo: Flickr


“We can’t end poverty if we fail to save the lives of our world’s mothers.” – Liya Kebede

According to the Foundation for AIDS Research, 70 percent of all people living with AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa, including 91 percent of the world’s HIV-positive children. One organization called mothers2mothers is dedicated to educating and providing proper healthcare to mothers living with HIV.

Pediatric AIDS is preventable, but nearly 700 children are infected with HIV each day. Most of these children acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Up to 40 percent of children born to HIV-positive mothers will contract the virus; however, mothers2mothers hopes to provide numerous opportunities to infected mothers, ranging from education to healthcare. With medical interventions during pregnancy, that percentage of children infected with HIV could shrink to two percent.

It can be difficult getting proper treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, where many medical centers are understaffed or miles from villages. Many women live in fear due to the stigma of HIV and do not get the treatment they need to save their lives or the lives of their children.

Mothers2mothers’s slogan is “Empowered women nurture healthy families.” The organization focuses on empowering and educating women and expecting mothers in the hope to alleviate the stress of HIV and provide proper care. One wing of their organization involves Mentor Mothers, who are mothers living with HIV. Mentor Mothers work alongside doctors and nurses by becoming part of the healthcare team in the health center. Mentor Mothers serve as counselors and confidantes to other mothers living with HIV and educate women on how to protect their children from HIV.

So far, mothers2mothers has discovered that women involved in mothers2mothers are more likely to take antiretroviral drugs that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; infants are better protected and are given an early diagnosis test to determine their health status.

Mothers2mothers plans on expanding and hopes to reach even more women than the 1.9 million women they currently serve. Mothers2mothers provides life-saving opportunities to women living with HIV as well as children.

Mothers bring children into this world, and children are the future. By saving the lives of mothers, the world can begin to see a healthier, brighter future that moves out of poverty and disease.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: Mothers2mothers, Aid for Africa
Photo: LGTVP