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First Ladies join forces at UN to fight HIV

United Nations: Thirty First Ladies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean joined forces at the United Nations to mobilise support to achieve the goal of zero new HIV infections among children by 2015.

Around 1,000 babies get infected with HIV each day, 90 per cent of whom are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). HIV is also the leading cause of maternal mortality in developing countries.

At the event, held during the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS, the First Ladies agreed to advocate for comprehensive access to maternal and child health services and to advance 10 action steps in their respective countries to ensure that children are born free from HIV and to promote life-saving HIV services for women and children.

"Women and girls must be at the centre of the AIDS response," said Michel Sidib, the Executive Director of UNAIDS and co-host of the event. "When women protect themselves from HIV, they protect a whole new generation from HIV," she added.

Among the 10 steps is supporting efforts to increase the number of centres providing free maternal, newborn and child health services, including treatment to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children.

"The fact that, in still too many places, HIV-positive women are denied the right to give birth to healthy babies is a global injustice that we can end by 2015," said Ban Soon-taek, the wife of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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