HIV and the Church

By Katie Sallee & Ashley Eure

The start of this month marked the launch of Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment (ACT), an ambitious new program that will double the amount of children with access to lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) across ten strategic African countries over the next two years. A joint investment from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), ACT will increase the number of children living with HIV who have access to treatment by over 300,000 children.

This investment has the potential to change the face of pediatric AIDS treatment, which has been marked by poor coverage in the past. Of the 3.2 million children living with HIV last year – 91 percent of whom reside in sub-Saharan Africa – only 24 percent were able to access ART. Without lifesaving treatment, half of the children living with HIV will die before their second birthday, and 80 percent will die before their fifth birthday.

“This situation must be changed,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “Together, we must act swiftly, and with a focus on impact and geographic efficiency, to hasten the day when no child dies of AIDS. PEPFAR is committed to helping achieve an AIDS-free generation, and ACT is a bold step in that direction.”

ACT will target the countries with the highest burden of pediatric HIV, the lowest access to pediatric treatment, and the greatest disparity in treatment coverage for children compared to adults living with HIV.

The PEPFAR-CIFF partnership will jointly invest $200 million in ACT, $150 million from PEPFAR and up to $50 million from CIFF. PEPFAR and CIFF have the shared goal of creating an AIDS-free generation – reaching the “Getting to Zero” target goals of zero new infections and zero children born with HIV. ART enables children who are HIV+ to make the disease manageable and decreases the danger they face everyday.

For more information, click HERE. To find out how you and your church can make a difference in the fight against AIDS, follow this link to Saddleback’s six step strategy: What Can The Church Do.

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