In Cuba, scientists have eliminated HIV transmission from mother-to-child, showing that an end to the HIV and Aids epidemic is fathomable.
“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, said in a Tuesday press release. “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.”
In 2010, the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization began work with Cuba and elsewhere around the world to stop the mother-to-child transmissions of HIV and syphilis. The advancement was made through “prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies, cesarean deliveries and breastfeeding substitution.” All of these measures are preventive care, which is not 100 percent effective, so the WHO defines “elimination” as “a reduction of transmission to a level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem.”
In 2013, only two babies were born with HIV and five with congenital syphilis in Cuba, compared to 240,000 globally, even lower than the 400,000 infected in 2009. The organization is aiming to have less than 40,000 new child infections in 2015.
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