Cuba becomes first to eliminate mother to child HIV transmission

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Cuba has become the first country to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Cuba has spent years perfecting its prenatal care, testing and drugs to stop HIV and syphilis from passing from mother to child.

Dr Margaret Chan said the record was one of the greatest public health achievements possible.

The WHO also said it hopes other countries will be able to follow suit and achieve the same.

According to the BBC, each year around 1.4 million HIV positive women become pregnant.

If untreated, there is a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus to their child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding.

If treated with antiretroviral medicine, the risk drops to 1%.

According to official data in Cuba, less than 2% of children whose mothers were HIV-positive are born with the virus, which constitutes the lowest percentage

Dr Carissa Etienne, of the Pan American Health Organization, which has been working with the WHO, commented, saying: “Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.”