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Facts on PMTCT

Prevention-of-Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV
Essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation

PMTCT: A comprehensive package

The risk of HIV transmission from mother to child can be reduced from around 30%— the risk without any intervention—to less than 5% through a package of interventions, which include testing, treatment drugs, counseling and psychological support, referred to as PMTCT—prevention of mother-to-child-transmission. PMTCT not only reduces the risk of HIV transmission from infected mothers to their infants, it also prevents having their children losing their mothers.

Protecting our future

Ensuring every HIV-positive mother receives PMTCT is our most effective way to end mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015, and reach the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 6. Ensuring that no baby is born with HIV is an essential step towards achieving an AIDS-free generation.

To reach our goals, pregnant women across the developing world must be tested for HIV. PMTCT programs must be scaled up to include all mothers and babies who need them – no matter how impoverished or geographically isolated they may be. And where prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission is accessible, it must be delivered consistently and with the most effective drugs available.

A four-pronged strategy

There is a four-pronged strategy to prevent HIV among infants and young children. This includes key interventions to be implemented as a component of overall maternal, newborn and child health services.

1.   Prevention of HIV amongst women of reproductive age within services related to reproductive health such as antenatal care, postpartum/natal care and other health and HIV service delivery points, including working with community structures.

2.   Providing appropriate counselling and support to women living with HIV to enable them make an informed decision about their future reproductive life, with special attention to preventing unintended pregnancies.

3.   For pregnant women living with HIV, ensure HIV testing and access to the antiretroviral drugs that will help mothers’ own health and prevent infection being passed on to their babies during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding.

4.   Better integration of HIV care, treatment and support for women found to be positive and their families.

Burden of the poorest

While new HIV infections among children have declined since 2002, a staggering 430,000 children were infected in 2008, and 280,000 died during the same year. The majority of these infections occured in just 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, plus India. Collectively, these countries account for over 90% of the women in need of treatment (known as antiretroviral therapy) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The same countries are also home to over 90% of the children under 15 who need paediatric AIDS treatment.

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