Cuba has become the first country in the world to completely rid itself of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. The data, recently released by the World Health Organization, proves that the AIDS epidemic can be defeated. Recently, WHO official Dr. Margaret Chan gave a statement of encouragement for other countries to follow suit and be validated by the organization.
“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible. 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.”
Cuba’s success in eliminating mother-to-child virus transmission began in 2010, due to partnerships with WHO and the Pan American Health Organization. The steps Cuba took to reach this point were pretty simple. Cuba was able to achieve zero mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis by promoting prenatal care and requiring pregnant women to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, according to CNN. Cuba’s success has set a precedent for the rest of the world, according to a recent statement from Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, the director of the PAHO.
“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV. Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.”
Because the prevention methods for the mother-to-child transmission of illnesses like HIV, as set by the World Health Organization, are not proven to be 100 percent effective, the organization has alternatively set a requirement for solving the epidemic that it is decreased to a number in which it will no longer be a public health epidemic. According to WHO’s recent press release, the number of mother-to-child transmissions around the world are quite shocking.
“Every year, globally, an estimated 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant. Untreated, they have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus to their children during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding. However, that risk drops to just over 1% if antiretroviral medicines are given to both mothers and children throughout the stages when infection can occur. The number of children born annually with HIV has almost halved since 2009 – down from 400 000 in 2009 to 240 000 in 2013. But intensified, efforts will be required to reach the global target of less than 40 000 new child infections per year by 2015.”
Cuba’s five years of activism in eliminating mother-to-child transmission has paid off, with just three reported cases in 2013. Today, the number of mother-to-child transmissions of both HIV and syphilis is zero.
[Image via ABC News]