Cuba Just Eliminated Mom-To-Baby HIV Transmission
In a move that has been called “one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” Cuba just announced that they have effectively eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby.
The World Health Organization recently announced the exciting news, with Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO Director-General, saying that the move was one important step towards helping to build an AIDS-free generation.
Part of the reason that the achievement is so exciting is because it shows other countries that eliminating the deadly virus and sexually transmitted disease is possible.
According to the WHO, every year across the entire globe, 1.4 million women with HIV get pregnant. That's a shockingly high number of women who previously couldn't do a single thing to stop their babies from getting infected with the deadly virus, too. (And let's not forget that the odds are that most of those women probably didn't have a choice in getting infected either from male partners, making the transmission a double tragedy.)
Without treatment of any kind, all of those babies face up to a 45% chance of getting infected from their mothers during pregnancy, their own delivery, or simply from breastfeeding. It's tragic when you think about it — those mothers are just doing what they have to do to keep their babies alive, and they could be killing them in the process.
With antiretroviral medicine treatment during a mother's pregnancy, through delivery, and even through breastfeeding, however, the risk of transmission drops to just over 1%. As efforts have spread to stop children from getting infected, the number of infected children around the world has dropped by a whopping half.
To continue the progress made, and to work towards screening, prevention, and treatment for the 1 million mothers infected with syphilis during pregnancy, UNAIDS partnered with the WHO to launch The Global Plan to eliminate HIV infections in children by 2015.
It's now 2015, and the efforts have paid off. Using strict standards to declare they have “eliminated HIV” includes new HIV infections in newborns at less than 50 cases per 100,000 live births and a mom-to-baby-rate of HIV as less than 5% in breastfeeding populations or less than 2% in non-breastfeeding populations.
In a world where it seems like there is tragic and horrible news everywhere you turn, it's so inspiring to see some good news on very real health danger for our world's moms and babies.
You can click here for more information or on ways you can get involved to keep mothers and babies safe from HIV and syphilis worldwide.