In what could be termed as the first major victory against AIDS, Cuba has become the world’s first country to eliminate HIV and syphilis transmission from mother to child. Hailing the achievement World Health Organisation (WHO) called it an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation. It also termed this as the greatest public health achievements possible.
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS said that it expects Cuba to be the first among many countries to come forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children. Every year, an estimated 1.4 million women worldwide with HIV become pregnant. If they are not treated on time then there is 15-45 percent chance of transmitting the disease to the child. However, the risk drops to just over 1 percent if both the mother and child are given anti-retroviral medicines when the chances of infection are more.
Cost effective screening and treatment during pregnancy has reduced the number of children affected by HIV from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000 in 2013. WHO also maintained that intensified efforts will be needed to bring down the figure to less than 40,000 per year by 2015.