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17 countries in Americas may have eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission–UN


WHO-LOGO-okThe World Health Organisation (WHO) said the data from 17 countries and territories across the Americas, including the U.S., Canada and Chile, showed they may had eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

The WHO and its regional arm in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), said on Tuesday in Bogota (Colombia), that the countries were able to cut mother-to-child transmission of HIV by improving pregnant women’s access to prenatal care, HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment.

Carissa Etienne, Head of PAHO/WHO, said the 17 countries and territories, including several Caribbean islands, report “data consistent with dual elimination” of HIV and syphilis, with births in those places accounting for about a third of all births in the region.

Etienne said the countries of the Americas had made tremendous efforts to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV there by cutting new infections by half since 2010.

She said the organisation considered a country to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of the two diseases, after a validation process that examined whether these goals had actually been met.

She said in June, Cuba became the first country in the world to receive WHO validation, that it had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mothers to children.

“Still across the Americas, 2,500 children were born last year with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“Ensuring pregnant women get HIV tests and antiretroviral treatment if they test positive is key to preventing the mother-to-child transmission,’’ he said.

Etienne disclosed that any HIV-positive pregnant women left untreated, had a 15 to 45 per cent chance of transmitting the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

Marcos Espinal, Head of PAHO/WHO’s Communicable Diseases Department, said an estimated 2 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are living with HIV.

He said there were around 100,000 new HIV infections in the region last year.

“Most of these infections were in adults, mainly gay men, transgender women, and sex workers and their clients,’’he said.

“Around 30 percent of people living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean do not know they are HIV-positive,’’ he said.

Espinal said to end HIV by 2030, there was need for accelerated action for prevention and access to treatment.

He said there should be focus on key populations and increasing investment and resources.

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