W.H.O.: Cuba has eliminated mother-to-child H.I.V.

Jul 01, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
Red ribbons, a symbol of solidarity for people living with HIV/AIDS, are displayed on a window at Hosier Lane in conjunction with the AIDS Conference 2014 in Melbourne on July 22, 2014.
ESTHER LIM/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has declared that Cuba is the first country to eliminate mother-to-child H.I.V. transmission. The country had just two babies born in 2013 with the virus. Al Jazeera America reports:

The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.
 
“Cuba's success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.
 
Every year, 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant, according to WHO estimates. Without treatment, pregnant women have between a 15 and 45 percent chance of transmitting the virus to their children.
 
 
“This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, in a statement.
 
The achievement is at least in part the result of a five-year program by WHO and the Pan American Health Organization to eliminate prenatal transmission of HIV in the region. The program has included testing for pregnant women and treatment for women who test positive. Effective treatment of HIV in pregnant women can reduce the risk of passing the disease to a child to just 1%, down from as high as 45% otherwise.
 
Around 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant every year. And while the number of mother to child transmissions has declined dramatically in recent years, from about 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000 2013, WHO officials hope to see the number drop below 40,000.

 

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