THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Cuba first ever to eliminate mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmissions

Cuba eliminates mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission | Courtesy of sciencedaily.com
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently confirmed that Cuba is the first country ever to successfully eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.

“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said. “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.”

Each year, approximately 1.4 million women with HIV are pregnant.

“This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere,” Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, said. “It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible, and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children.”

When left untreated, the chances of transmitting HIV to the baby throughout the pregnancy, delivery, labor and breastfeeding stands between 15 and 45 percent. In contrast, when mothers receive antiretroviral medicines, the transmission risk decreases to just over one percent. This makes prevention of mother-to-child transmissions of HIV and syphilis a major achievement.

“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,” Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO Director, said. “Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.”