Eliminating Pediatric AIDS

We’re working with partners to end new HIV infections in children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive.
Sep 24, 2012 10:15 AM ET

Approximately 900 children are newly infected with HIV every day, and nearly all of these children acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.  However, effective, inexpensive and safe medical interventions that prevent HIV transmission to infants and protect the health of their mothers are available, even in settings where resources are constrained.

Johnson & Johnson envisions a world in which no baby is born with HIV and every mother has the opportunity to help her baby thrive.  Preventing maternal-to-child transmission of HIV is thus a cornerstone of our philanthropic commitment to reduce the burden of HIV and AIDS on women and their families. 

For almost a decade, Johnson & Johnson has pursued a comprehensive strategy to end this unnecessary global health tragedy.  From 2003-2001, J&J has committed $20 million to effective partnerships, including our long collaborations with mothers2mothers (m2m) and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).  With these partners we have strengthened community health systems, provided individual counseling to pregnant women and tackled HIV-related social stigma and its devastating consequences. 

Over ten years, with EGPAF, we have provided HIV-testing and counseling to more than 2.6 million pregnant women, and care to 174,000 women living with HIV in 11 countries. 

We renewed our commitment in 2011, as the United Nations launched the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive.  To support the plan’s priorities and its goal to virtually eliminate pediatric AIDS by reducing new infections in children by 90 percent, Johnson & Johnson pledged an additional four-year, $15 million commitment, commencing this year.

Over the last year, we have developed new strategies to serve the hardest-to-reach, most vulnerable women and children. Working with diverse partners, we have focused our efforts in four key areas:

  • Funding psychosocial support for expectant and new mothers living with HIV. Providing care, empowering women through education, and addressing social stigma are enduring elements of our strategy. With mothers2mothers (m2m), we provided psychosocial support to more than 200,000 expectant and new mothers living with HIV in 2011 alone.
  • Supporting Ministries of Health that want to achieve the goals of the Global Plan. Because private-sector approaches can help address public health problems, we have fostered collaboration through a groundbreaking leadership and management program. In Swaziland and Lesotho, Johnson & Johnson, the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and PEPFAR have worked closely with the MOH. The program has built knowledge and skills, empowered MOH personnel, accelerated the rollout of important guidelines, guided healthcare worker training, and decreased stock-outs. By strengthening health systems, we enable mothers seeking services to obtain optimal care.
  • Promoting creative mobile health solutions to persistent health system problems. Reaching women and children is most challenging in remote settings, but mobile phone coverage has permeated poor, rural communities in recent years. By seeding pilot projects and hosting workshops to bring together people working in mobile technology and HIV, Johnson & Johnson has unlocked the potential of mobile technology as a solution to these access barriers. With partners including EGPAF, Frog Design, mHealth Alliance, and UNICEF we are exploring how mobile technology has the potential to shape the field.
  • Providing expertise and global leadership. Johnson & Johnson has long been recognized as a thought leader because of our enduring commitment to this issue. Over the last year, we have built upon this legacy of leadership to convene funders to share updates, discuss resource deployment, and bring new private-sector funds and fresh thinking to the issue. In doing so, we are lending our years of experience, lessons learned and best practices to help achieve the goals of the Global Plan.

Our responsibility to the communities in which we live and the world community was established by our credo more than half a century ago, long before the AIDS pandemic threatened the lives of far too many women and children.  But its mandate is clear and it still guides our work today, inspiring us to meet new challenges with our enduring commitment – to make life-changing, long-term differences in the health of women, children, and families. 

The dedication of Johnson & Johnson in preventing HIV transmission from mothers to their children is almost a decade long, and we are inspired to continue this important work. We will continue to foster innovation, promote partnership and provide visionary leadership to reach the day that no baby is born with HIV and no mother dies of AIDS.