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Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT)

A mother and child reading an AIDS brochure in Cambodia
© UNICEF/HQ000126/Noorani
A mother and child reading an AIDS brochure in Cambodia

The Issues

• Without any medical intervention, between 20% and 45% of women living with HIV will transmit the virus to their children during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding.

• In 2007, only 33% of pregnant women living with HIV in low-and middle-income countries received antiretroviral (ARV) regimens, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) for PMTCT, compared to only 10% in 2004. In the same year, only 18% of pregnant women in these countries received an HIV test.

• Uptake of ART for PMTCT in East Asia and the Pacific increased from 24% in 2006 to 38% in 2007; and in South Asia, from 10% to 13%, respectively.

• In 2006, only 14% of antenatal care (ANC) facilities in East Asia and the Pacific region provided PMTCT services. Of the total new ANC attendees, 11% were counselled on PMTCT and 10% received an HIV test. Among HIV-positive women tested at clinics, 30% received ARVs for PMTCT.

UNICEF in action

UNICEF is spearheading efforts to introduce and expand PMTCT interventions in our region. These include:
• Linking PMTCT with sexual reproductive health and/or maternal child health programmes to strengthen the continuum of HIV prevention and care
• Strengthening VCT services for couples at antenatal care (ANC), reproductive health and STI clinics
• Supporting routine HIV testing and counselling of men at STI clinics  since STI sites are one of the effective avenues for tracking men with high-risk behaviours, including those who buy sex, along with measures to test their male/female partners
• Engaging women living with HIV through self-help groups to help reduce loss to follow up
• Forging closer coordination between the health system and people living with HIV.


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