21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)


Stopping New HIV Infections Among Children and Adolescents and Providing Treatment to Women and Children

July 20, 2016

Michel Sidibé

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director (Credit: International AIDS Society/Marcus Rose)

At the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, stakeholders came together on 18 July to forge ahead on the "Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free" initiative, which was launched at the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016. The initiative is designed as a follow-up to the remarkable success achieved by the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.

In a session entitled "Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free: finishing the job of the Global Plan," stakeholders reviewed the progress made towards eliminating new HIV infections among children, as well as how to super Fast-Track access to pediatric treatment for mothers and children. The session was organized by a consortium comprising UNAIDS, the United States President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework provides a menu of policy and programmatic actions designed to enable countries and partners to close the remaining HIV prevention and treatment gap for children, adolescents, young women and expectant mothers. Stakeholders discussed how to build a concerted and coordinated country-led action that is backed by global support, so that countries can move quickly forward. The framework recognizes that every country needs a tailor-made acceleration and implementation plan. Each plan should respond to the country context, building on successful strategies for systems strengthening and identifying critical opportunities and actions that can expand access to life-saving HIV treatment and prevention services for all children, adolescents and young women as quickly as possible.


Participants at the session discussed the need to ensure that children are at the centre of an AIDS-free generation and examined the major barriers, gaps and opportunities to achieving this goal. The session also discussed the role of public-private partnerships and women living with HIV.

Speakers included the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, Deborah Birx, United States Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, Chip Lyons, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, and Gottfried Hirnschall of WHO. Speakers also included representatives of private sector organizations, such as the MAC AIDS Fund, Johnson & Johnson and Born Free.

The Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework establishes three blocks of programme activity that are closely interrelated and should move forwards together. The participants discussed how to ensure that the response takes into account the reality and variability of country, government and partner priorities, and how to create an implementation environment that optimizes partnerships. They discussed the role of accountability and measurement and mechanisms to ensure that countries get timely responses and support. To support implementation, the framework also calls on industry, civil society and international partners to focus on investing in and finding new, efficient and cost-effective solutions that simplify and innovate to maximize programme outcomes.


We must stop new HIV infections among children, ensure access to life-saving treatment for people living with HIV and halt the cycle of new infections among girls and young women -- only then will we end pediatric AIDS.

-- Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

We won't end AIDS as a public health crisis if we don't end AIDS in children first.

-- Chip Lyons, Executive Director, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Next in our response to HIV is to break the chain of transmission throughout the life cycle ... from mother to child, to adolescent, to mother again. Through prevention and treatment at every point.

-- Tony Lake, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund

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This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016). Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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