Cuba totally eliminates Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis

By Caribbean Medical News Staff
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that Cuba is first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Director of WHO, Dr Margaret Chan said: “eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible. 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” she added.
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé said: “This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere. It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children.”
PAHO Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne said: “Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV. Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis”.
It is estimated that almost 1 million pregnant women internationally are infected with syphilis yearly. Consequently, this can result in early foetal loss and stillbirth, neonatal death, underweight babies and serious neonatal infections. However, simple, economical screening and treatment options during pregnancy, such as penicillin, can eliminate most of these problems.
In recent years, there have been major efforts to ensure that women get the treatment they need to keep themselves healthy and their children free from HIV and syphilis and a number of countries are now poised to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both illnesses.

Syphilis affected 360 000 pregnancies through stillbirths, neonatal deaths, prematurity, and infected babies in 2012.

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