Fighting AIDS

Cuba is eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

According to the World Health Organization, Cuba is the first country to figure out a way to stop the AIDS virus from being transmitted from mothers to babies. By giving the mother HIV drugs before and after giving birth along with administering drugs to the newborn, the risk of the baby being infected falls to below 1 percent, down from 45 percent without the medication. While this requires the mother to have been tested and the drugs to be available, the WHO claims that the number of children born annually with HIV has been cut in half since 2009, and that in low and middle-income countries, 67 percent of infected pregnant women were able to get the drugs. Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO said, “eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” and the organization hopes that the success in Cuba will encourage other donors and governments to improve their efforts. Chan added that it is “an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation.” This is not the first of Cuba’s medical feats as they have also discovered how to stop syphilis from being transmitted from mother to child, which health officials say is easy to do as long as the woman receives antibiotics to treat the infection.

Read the full story at NBC News.

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