The World Health Organization has announced that Cuba has become the first nation in the world to eliminate mother-to child HIV transmission.
The WHO said this advancement is proof that the end of the AIDS epidemic is indeed possible. The island nation, with whom the US has recently reconnected diplomatic ties, is also the first nation to eliminate mother-to-child syphilis transmission.
“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.”
To accomplish this feat, the communist nation worked with the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization in 2010 on a mission to eliminate both mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission. The nation provided HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies then substituting vaginal deliveries for cesarean ones and bottle feeding instead of breastfeeding.
Annually, an estimated 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant and, if not treated, there is a 15% to 45% chance they will transmit the virus during pregnancy, labor, delivery or through breastfeeding. However when antiretroviral medicines are given to moms and their babies, the risk drops to a little over 1%.
This is excellent news and great to see that a “developing” non “First World” nation accomplished this milestone as it gives hope to those countries without sufficient resources that they too can eliminate the transmission as well.
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