Statistics show progress has been made worldwide when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention. Figures from UNICEF reveal new infections among children under 15 years old decreased by 35% globally from 2009 to 2012; 62% of pregnant women with HIV in countries with high rates of the disease received services to prevent mother-to-child transmission in 2012; and about 850,000 new HIV infections were prevented among children up to 14 years old living in low- and middle-income countries between 2005 and 2012. But there is still more work to be done. Between 2005 and 2012, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents jumped by 50% and about 260,000 new HIV infections occurred among children in low- and middle-income countries in 2012. Realizing the need, Chevron has stepped up its support for HIV prevention. The company announced Tuesday that it is directing its latest effort to Bayelsa State in Nigeria, contributing an additional $1.7 million to the Pact Institute-sponsored PROMOT Project. That increases the company’s five-year investment in the project to $5.3 million. The project aims to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, while also increasing awareness and services that support HIV positive women who are pregnant. The project already has been deemed a success in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The additional funding will extend the program throughout Bayelsa, which reportedly has the third-highest HIV prevalence rate of Nigeria’s states. Since Chevron started its partnership with Pact in 2012, “Bayelsa State has achieved several important results, including reaching more than 6,500 people with critical HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention information, testing more than 7,000 women during prenatal care, and arranging for HIV counseling for nearly 700 people,” according to a Business Wire news release. Rhonda Zygocki, executive vice president of policy and planning for Chevron, said, “This is a proven model that we’re motivated to expand as we work together to deliver real, measurable results in the effort to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV.” The Pact partnership is part of a larger effort in which groups and businesses, including Chevron, joined the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief by pledging $20 million to prevent new HIV cases among children by 2015, according to Chevron’s website. A similar initiative by Chevron is a partnership with the Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free. This program is centered on Nasarawa State, and since the program began in 2012, health facilities offering prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services have jumped 109%, more than 52,690 women have been tested for HIV and more than 2,350 HIV-positive women have started anti-retroviral drug treatment for PMTCT, Chevron said. These results are encouraging. Hopefully, with the additional funds, even more women will gain access to needed services and prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at email@example.com.
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