New Delhi: Claiming that there is a 24 per cent global decline in new HIV infections among children, UNICEF on Saturday said that more positive pregnant women should receive anti-retroviral treatment to decrease the risk of the diseases getting transmitted to their babies.
In India, the agency said, "Over 14,000 children got infected in 2011, with a 13 per cent decline from 2009."
Applauding the global commitment against HIV, it said, "The world has seen a 24 per cent reduction in new HIV infections in children from 4,30,000 in 2009 to 3,30,000 in 2011."
The number of estimated deaths among children (0-14 years old group) due to AIDS was 10,213 in 2011, it added.
For controlling the spread of infection from pregnant mothers to children, the agency said, "Reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation requires that more HIV positive pregnant women receive anti-retroviral treatment to decrease the risk of infection for their babies."
Noting that UNICEF India will continue to focus on preventing parent-to-child transmissions, UNICEF India representative Louis Georges Arsenault said, "Treating HIV- positive pregnant women not only keeps them alive and well, but prevents babies from acquiring HIV during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding period."
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the occasion reiterated the organisation`s commitment to test and identify more HIV positive mothers during their pregnancy.
"We must re-dedicate ourselves to boosting the number of pregnant women and children being tested and treated through basic antenatal and child health programmes,"
The total number of people living with HIV in India has seen a decline from approximately 2.3 million to 2.1 million.
"The drop has been much higher among men (16 per cent) than among women (2.6 per cent)," it said.
On progress made in the field of treatment for HIV positive people, UNICEF said that in low and middle income countries, coverage of effective anti-retroviral treatment for preventing mother-to-child transmission reached 57 per cent in 2011.
The access to treatment of children in need in India has also increased from six per cent in 2006 to 34 per cent in 2011, with the launch of paediatric HIV programme.