Burundi committed to stopping new HIV infections among childrenListen /
"AIDS is a strategic entry point for advancing Burundi's social agenda at several levels: protecting women, children and human rights," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé at an event marking Burundi's National AIDS Day.
Sidibe, on an official visit to the country, met with the Second Vice-President, Gervais Rufyikiri, who has championed the country's drive to stop new HIV infections in children.
Burundi marked its National AIDS Day on 8 May, committed to stopping new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive. The government also "committed to bringing Burundi to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths".
Burundi's health authorities report HIV prevalence in the country was 1.4% in 2010 with more than 98,000 people living with HIV in 2011. The country is struggling with a low HIV treatment coverage with only 49% of people eligible for antiretroviral therapy accessing it. Almost 2000 babies were born with HIV in 2011.
The government has promised to improve treatment coverage especially for pregnant women living with HIV and recently Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza adopted a decree which aims to significantly scale-up services to prevent new HIV infections among children.
In 2011, UNAIDS and partners launched the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. Burundi is one of the 22 countries that the Global Plan focuses on, where 90% of new HIV infections among children occur.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.