There has been a major medical breakthrough when it comes to HIV and syphilis.
CNN reports that Cuba has now become the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of these two viruses in the world.
“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization which is the organization that joined forces with the Pan American Health Organization and began to work with Cuba and other countries in 2010 to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. “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.”
WHO says this advancement shows that there is a possible end to AIDS epidemic that has plagued the world for decades. Officials hope to see more countries seek validation from the organization.
According to WHO statistics, “an estimated 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant worldwide every year, the WHO reported, and if they’re untreated, they have a 15% to 45% chance of transmitting the virus during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding. But when antiretroviral medicines are given to mothers and children, the risk drops to slightly more than 1%.”
Although this advancement may make history, it isn’t full proof. This is because it was documented that two babies were born with HIV and five were born with congenital syphilis in Cuba this year. The term “eliminate” is used loosely to describe a “reduction of transmission to a level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem.” In order to completely eliminate this transmission WHO says they need more help worldwide.
The organization’s efforts were geared towards preventive treatment for mother and child. It includes prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, treatment for women who test positive and their babies, cesarean deliveries and breastfeeding substitution. There are also maternal and child health programs created for HIV and sexually transmitted infection programs.
Fortunately, HIV births have been dropped by almost half globally. As of 2013 the number of children born with HIV dropped from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000. WHO hopes to dropped that number to about 40,000 worldwide for 2015.