The HIV and AIDS pandemic is one of the most serious health crises the world is facing today. A disproportionate burden has been placed on women and children, who in many settings continue to experience high rates of new HIV infections and of HIV-related illness and death.
In 2009, 33.3 million individuals were living with HIV, of whom 15.7 million were women and 2.1 million were children under 15 years of age. Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death in women of reproductive age. Since nearly all HIV infections in children are acquired from their mothers, the global epidemiology of HIV in children reflects that of HIV in women.
It has been estimated that, in 2009, there were 370, 000 new paediatric infections with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for about 90% of both of these figures. Nearly all such infections can be prevented by PMTCT programmes providing highly effective ART and ARV prophylaxis interventions.