Cuba has become the first nation on earth to eliminate HIV and syphilis transmission from mother to baby according to Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). She said this was a giant step towards an Aids-free generation describing it as “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” .
Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said Cuba's achievement “provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.” PAHO partnered with the WHO on the Cuba initiative,
Access to antiretroviral drugs has increased in Caribbean over the last five years as part of regional moves to eliminate mother-to-child HIV and syphilis transmission.
Chan testing for HIV and syphilis amongst pregnant women and their partners, substitution of breastfeeding, and Cesarean deliveries and have also helped break the infection chain.
According to official figures 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant annually. They have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus during pregnancy. This risk lowers to just over 1% if mother and baby receive treatment with antiretrovirals. Who figures show the incidence of HIV has dropped by 50 per cent since 2009.
Experts have said the eradication of Aids, even if there's no cure, is possible if HIV prevention continues to increase.