The World Health Organisation has announced on Monday the 29th of June that Cuba has managed to make a huge step towards controlling the spread of HIV by becoming the first country in the world to prevent its transmission from mother to child.
A child is at risk of contracting the virus both at birth and during breastfeeding should its mother be infected. However if a mother receives HIV medication before and after giving birth and the newborn is administered these drugs shortly after being born the risk of transmission falls to less than a percent. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan has hailed Cuba’s achievement as:
“A major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation.”
Over the last number of years the number of children infected with HIV at the time of birth has almost halved, with the US seeing as mush as a 90% reduction. However it is estimated that 14% of those infected with HIV in the US don’t know that they are infected, which means they wouldn’t be getting the necessary treatment should they get pregnant.
According to the World Health Organisation as many as 1.4 million women who are infected with HIV give birth every year. Without the proper precautions the chances of the mother infecting the new born is as much as 45%. While there are still some issues with having this work on a global scale, this is a huge step towards controlling such epidemics. The progress made in recent times and the achievements of Cuba show that an AIDS free generation is possible, and that organisations and donors should redouble their efforts in light of this.