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Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)

Elimination of new HIV infections among children can be achieved through the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT). PMTCT is an intervention to ensure that no child is born with HIV and it is an essential step to ensuring an AIDS free generation. The PMTCT initiative provides drugs, counseling and psychological support to help mothers safeguard their infants against the virus.  

Pregnant women infected with HIV are at high risk of transmitting HIV to their infants during pregnancy, during birth or through breastfeeding. Over 90% of new HIV infections among infants and young children occur through Mother to Child Transmission. Without any intervention, the risk of transmission of infection from the mother to the baby is 20-45 per cent. With an evidence-based set of comprehensive interventions, this transmission rate can be reduced to less than 2 per cent.

The current WHO guidelines recommend two interventions:

(i)                providing lifelong ART to all pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV regardless of CD4 count or clinical stage or

(ii)               providing ART (ARV drugs) for pregnant and breastfeeding women with HIV during the mother-to-child transmission risk period and then continuing lifelong ART for those women eligible for treatment for their own health.

The current global goal is to accelerate progress towards the elimination of new child infections by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. This can be achieved by ensuring that PMTCT interventions are made available to all women that need it.

The current global goal has 2 targets

·         Reduce the number of new childhood HIV infections by 90%.

·         Reduce the number of HIV-related maternal deaths by 50%.

UNICEF support
UNICEF  has played a critical leadership role in setting the global PMTCT agenda, in scaling up national PMTCT programmes in resource-limited settings. Areas of support have included:

• policy,
• guideline and tool-development,
• capacity development (including development of the skills of service providers),
• promotion of methods to expand access to HIV testing and counselling,
• efficient procurement of ARVs and other essential commodities, and
• monitoring and evaluating progress.

Further guidance

Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection   provides an indicative overview of activities and commodities required for successful PMTCT intervention and also management of HIV/AIDS.

Global plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive



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