Healthbeat: Bringing awareness to pediatric HIV on World AIDS Day

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Despite efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, nearly 500 children are infected daily

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Tuesday marks the 33rd World AIDS Day, a day to take stock of progress made in the fight to end Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Despite making strides to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, the ongoing effort has endured a significant setback.

In assessing recent progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the head of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation points to a pair of particular areas.

“We have much better tools to fight and secure free generation the future of an HIV free generation for kids. Better medicines, better testing capability,” Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation President/CEO Chip Lyons said.

Despite reducing new HIV infections in the U.S, greater global progress has been dealt a setback since last World AIDS Day: the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have seen in some countries since March because of lockdowns, because of non-sufficient access to services, new infection rates are starting to go up,” Lyons said.

In Pennsylvania, HIV is still being transmitted from pregnant moms to their unborn babies, as well as among teens and adults.

“There were about 1,000 new infections in 2018 in Pennsylvania. There were about 36,000, 37,000 people living with HIV in Pennsylvania. That’s part of a broadly lowering trend nationally,” Lyons said.

But Lyons remains hopeful because of breakthroughs in pediatric medication that is more easily ingested and far less expensive. As we await approval of a vaccine for COVID-19, Lyons is optimistic we will eventually get one also for HIV.

“We will deal and conquer, deal with and conquer COVID and we will persist on HIV and AIDS. There is no question in my mind about that,” Lyons said.

You can learn more about the fight against Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by visiting www.pedaids.org.

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