Read the full story from
the World Health Organization here.
Cuba has become the first country in the world to receive
validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) that it has eliminated
mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest
public health achievements possible,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO
Director-General. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and
sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an
AIDS-free generation” she added.
Around the globe, an estimated 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant
each year. If left untreated, these women have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus to their children during
pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding. However, that risk drops to just
over 1% if the proper HIV medication is given to both mothers and
children throughout the stages when infection can occur.
Both WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
have been working with partners in Cuba and other countries in the Americas
since 2010 to implement a regional initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission
of HIV. Efforts include early access to prenatal care, HIV testing for both
pregnant women and their partners, treatment for those who test positive,
caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding. In addition, maternal
and child health programs are integrated with programs for HIV as well as other
sexually transmitted infections.
“Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other
countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of
HIV," said PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne.
There have been major efforts in recent years to ensure that
women get the treatment they need to keep themselves well and their children
free from HIV and a number of countries are now poised to eliminate
mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
As treatment for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission
is not 100% effective, elimination of transmission is defined as a reduction of
transmission to such a low level that it no longer constitutes a public health
Between 2009 and 2013, the proportion of pregnant women
living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries receiving effective
antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of the virus to their children
doubled. This amounts to 7 out of 10 women in these countries receiving the
treatment they need to prevent transmission to their children. Among the 22
countries which account for 90% of new HIV infections, eight have already
reduced new HIV infections among children by over 50% since 2009 and another four are close to meeting this mark.
Worldwide, the number of children born with HIV each year
dropped from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000 in 2013. Though in order to reach the global target of no
more than 40,000 new child infections by 2015, health officials say increased
efforts will be needed around the world.
The local church can play an important role in testing,
counseling and care. Learn
more here or email HIV@saddleback.com
to get involved in Getting to Zero.