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A Mother�s Blessing

A Mother�s Blessing

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS executive director Michel Sidibe says mother-to-child HIV transmissions across Africa have declined drastically thanks in part to the Millennium Villages Projects.

Sidibe was joined at an event by Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to the U.N. secretary-general and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. MVP is a collaboration of EI, the U.N. Development Program, Millennium, Promise, and local governments. The project now covers 500,000 people worldwide, focusing on integrating health, education, and other aspects of rural development.

UNAIDS and MVP have partnered specifically to tackle HIV, particularly among women; TB; malaria; child mortality; and maternal health. A key focus is creating effective means of reducing MTCT that can be implemented across Africa and other areas hard-hit by HIV. In 2008 alone, 390,000 infants across sub-Saharan Africa contracted HIV from their mothers.

"UNAIDS brings unrivaled global expertise, leadership, and detailed strategies to the fight against HIV/AIDS, including MTCT," said Sachs.

Sauri, an MVP village in western Kenya where 60% to 70% of people live on less than $1 per day, has registered just four MTCT cases, said Sidibe. HIV testing of pregnant women has increased from 10% to 60% in three years, he added.

"Against a background of over 400,000 cases of MTCT, this is an impressive figure and with a concerted effort, we can fully curb mother-to-child transmission of HIV and bear witness as an HIV-free generation is born in Africa and the world," Sidibe said.

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