The DREAM program of the Community of Sant’Egidio has been invited to attend the World Health Assembly on May 23, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which takes place every year at the United Nations in Geneva. On this occasion DREAM has promoted a side-event entitled “Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission and reduction of maternal deaths”.
The World Assembly addresses the most important issues of global health and the DREAM program wanted to focus the attention on the problem of prevention of infection by HIV+ from HIV positive mothers to their children. From its experience in 10 African countries, the DREAM program came to the conclusion that antiretroviral therapy to mothers not only reduces the transmission of the infection to their children, but it is also an important factor of protection for the mother herself, reducing drastically the probability of death.
For this reason the side-event has proposed, in the prestigious headquarters of the “World Health Assembly”, to take pregnancy as a sufficient criterion to start the antiretroviral therapy in HIV+ women.
More than 70 people from the delegations of the countries present at the assembly attended the side-event, as well as leading personalities of WHO.
The proceedings were opened by Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of WHO, head of the “Family, Women's and Children's Health“ department, who stressed the importance of an integrated approach to the fight against HIV; the works proceeded with the intervention of Gottfried Hirnschall, director of WHOs department for HIV, who illustrated a comprehensive global plan to achieve the objective of zero new HIV infections among children; the session concluded with the intervention of Prof. Leonardo Palombi of the Community of Sant’Egidio, who showed the data collected from the DREAM program about the reduction of new infections and maternal mortality through the use of antiretroviral drugs in Africa.
Palombi said: "It is the right moment! Yes, we believe that the time has arrived to take some decisions that can change the history for years to come. It is time to stop the death of women and mothers affected by HIV and to give their children and their families the hope of a future free from the shadow of AIDS, because this victory today is truly at hand.”