Cuba became the first country to receive validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
Following the affirmation of Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington, WHO delivered to Cuba the first certification in the world that guarantees that a country has achieved the double challenge of eliminating mother transmission the child of HIV and, also, of congenital syphilis.
Nearly 1 million pregnant women worldwide are infected with syphilis annually. This can result in fetal death, perinatal death or in severe neonatal infections. However, simple and cost-effective screening and treatment options during pregnancy, such as penicillin, can eliminate most of these complications.
The achievement of Cuba
Knowing all the economic difficulties in which the Caribbean country has been going for years gives even more merit this event for Cuban medicine, which has been one of the greatest achievements of its history.
PAHO / WHO and its partners work with Cuba and other countries of the Americas since 2010, in the implementation of an initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
As part of the regional initiative, Cuba has worked to ensure early access to prenatal care, testing for HIV and syphilis for both pregnant women and their partners, to provide treatment for women who test positive and their babies, in the substitution of breastfeeding and the prevention of HIV and syphilis before and during pregnancy through the use of condoms and other preventive measures.
The 15-45% chance of transmission of HIV from mother to child drops to only 1% if retrovirals are given to both mother and child during all phases in which transmission can occur. According to the WHO, the number of children born each year with HIV has been reduced by almost half since 2009, from 400,000 to 240,000 in 2013.
In recent years, significant efforts have been made around the world to ensure that women have access to the treatment they need to stay well and that their children are free of HIV and syphilis.
In 2007, WHO launched the guide “Global elimination of congenital syphilis: fundamentals and strategy for action”. The strategy seeks to increase the global access to syphilis tests and the treatment of pregnant women.
In 2011, UNAIDS with WHO and other partners launched a global plan with the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. This global movement has driven innovation and community participation to ensure that children remain free of HIV.