Letter to Pharmaceutical Company

Introduction and Background

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As a young person, you and your church, school or organisation can help children and young people with HIV. If you already know about the campaign, you can move to the next page (click at the bottom)

UNAIDS estimates that around 1.8 million children younger than 15 are living with HIV in the world - with 500 new infection per day!

We know that these children can live a long and healthy life.

It is however essential that they are diagnosed early and that they have medication and Antiretroviral Treatment (ART for the rest of their lives. Sadly, we also know that more than half of children who are born with HIV worldwide will die before their second birthday if they do not receive treatment.

Yet, less than half the children with HIV worldwide received ART in 2017.

Countries worldwide are aiming for the 90/90/90 HIV target - this means that 90% of people living with HIV know their status, that 90% of those who are positive are on antiretroviral therapy, and that 90% of those on treatment’s virus is ‘undetectable’ (this is a sign of successful treatment, and means that the virus is unlikely to be transmitted to others).

South Africa has had good results in reducing new infections in babies and adults (even though there is still concern in some age groups). We are largely also quite successful in achieving the 90/90/90 targets. In 2016, 86% of people with HIV knew their status, 65% of these were on ARVs, and 81% on treatment attained viral suppression.

This success however hides a less rosy picture for children and adolescents, especially for girls.

In South Africa there were 320,000 children living with HIV in 2016, of which 12,000 were newly infected in the year, and 9300 children died from AIDS-related conditions.

While more than 95% of HIV-positive pregnant mothers received treatment in 2016 (this protects their babies from infection and ensure that they stay healthy), only 55% of children living with HIV received ARV treatment. Although the statistics might have strange slightly from then, this means that around 150,000 children do not receive the medicine they desperately need.
One of the most important reasons for this is that children are not diagnosed soon enough, partly because the test in young children is more complex and more difficult to access.

There is also reason for concern about adolescents.

In 2016 there were 370,000 adolescents (aged 10 to 19) living with HIV in South Africa, of which 150 000 new infections took place in that year alone. Of these new infections, 41,000 took place in young girls. There were also 6 200 deaths due to AIDS-related conditions.

Children and young people in schools, churches and other institutions are invited to be part of an international letter-writing campaign asking for greater access to medication and testing for children. We invite you to be part of this by filling in the form below.

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