Press Release

22 July 2012

Saving Lives by Preventing Unintended Pregnancies and HIV during Pregnancy

Rights-based investments needed to meet ambitious global targets

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Bold new commitments have been made to deliver on the promise to end child and maternal death and improve health. The Preventing HIV and Unintended Pregnancies Strategic Framework supports one such commitment – to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive.

This guidance framework, which will be released during the XIX International AIDS Conference, spotlights two neglected strategies: preventing HIV in pregnant women and preventing unintended pregnancies. Without these strategies, the targets of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and reducing HIV-related maternal death will remain elusive.

• Pregnancy itself may pose an increased risk for HIV for physiological and behavioural reasons. Becoming HIV positive during pregnancy has been documented, and underscores the need for enhanced HIV prevention efforts for pregnant women and the need for repeat HIV testing. HIV contributes significantly to maternal death and halving it is one of the new global HIV targets.

• Rights-based family planning has a major impact on lives – empowering women, contributing to fewer new HIV infections in children, and reducing maternal deaths and ill-health. Voluntary family planning could avert 32 per cent of all maternal deaths and nearly 10 per cent of childhood deaths. Meeting unmet need for family planning in HIV high-burden countries would result in six million fewer unintended births and 61,000 fewer children with HIV in the year 2015 alone. Expanding family planning services could prevent 163,000 infants worldwide from acquiring HIV by 2015, reducing costs by $200 million.

• The 2012 report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law underscores the need to develop, implement, and monitor policies that address the rights and sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV. Despite advances in addressing HIV-related stigma, many women living with HIV are still experiencing forced sterilization and abortion, and a violation of their rights to have children.

Strengthening collaboration between family planning and HIV is a win-win strategy. The multibillion dollars pledged at the Family Planning Summit in London provides a unique opportunity to reduce maternal mortality, uphold rights, and prevent new HIV infections in children.” (George Tembo, UNFPA)

“Complementing condom use, one of the pioneering approaches to reducing new HIV infections in pregnant women is ‘treatment for prevention’. Inviting partners to know their HIV status is a ‘love letter’ that needs to be sent now!” (Kevin Osborne, IPPF)

This framework offers guidance to implement services for preventing HIV and unintended pregnancies and carry out five key strategies: link sexual and reproductive health and HIV; strengthen community engagement; promote greater involvement of men; engage organizations of people living with HIV; and ensure non-discriminatory service provision in stigma-free settings.

The framework will be launched on Tuesday, 24 July, 2012 in Press Conference Room 2, Washington Convention Centre.

For more information, please contact:

Omar Gharzeddine
+1 212 297 5028

Sarah Russell
+41 79 598 6823

Ramona DuBose
+1 919 932 0977

Jennifer Woodside
+44 207 939 8227