New York, 9 June 2011

President Kagame on Thursday addressed the UNICEF’s missing face of Children and Aids meeting in New York. The event was organized by UNICEF with the aim of putting children living with HIV/AIDS at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS agenda. President Paul Kagame was invited to speak about Rwanda’s progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In his remarks President Kagame noted that without the prevention of mother to child transmission programme, an estimated six thousand three hundred babies who would have been infected with HIV at birth.

“Today, while the developed world has virtually eliminated mother-to-child transmission of the disease, almost 90% of new HIV infections in children occur in Sub Saharan Africa. Majority of these are due to the transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies. In Rwanda, it is estimated that about 6300 newborn babies would be infected with HIV/AIDS if the prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme was not in place. What will it take to have a HIV free new generation? History will judge us harshly if even with these lessons we fail to achieve our goal of eliminating new HIV infection in children”.

President Kagame said that in Rwanda prevention of mother-to-child transmission has been integrated into the routine maternal and child health services to the extent that 80% of health facilities provide this service.

During the meeting, ‘Princess’, a 24 year old woman who was born with HIV/AIDS, recounted her story and enumerated the challenges she faces in life as a result of her status. She called on world leaders to unite and work towards ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.