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1m babies born without HIV

June 18, 2013

The millionth baby found to be HIV negative when born from a mother who was infected with the virus has been born in Africa. This has been largely aided by an American programme which has continually supported the continent to try and reduce the prevalence of the virus in the area.

It's part of a worldwide mission to see an AIDS-free generation and huge leaps are being taken in the medical professional to make this a reality.

Mother-to-baby transmission has been a chronic problem in African countries and has sparked much concern for governments and organisations which campaign to see the end of the HIV virus spreading.

Developments in anti-retroviral drugs has now significantly reduced the chance of a HIV-positive mother passing the virus to her baby through either pregnancy or breastfeeding. 

There currently exists the biggest fall in mother-to-baby transmission rates since 2009, according to the US Global AIDS coordinator Eric Goosby.

He said: "Somewhere round 430,000 babies are born annually with HIV and this project that we've been in really since the beginning of PEPFAR and has intensified over the last three years in partnership with UNAID and UNICEF." 

Mr Goosby added that the programme is trying to "virtually eliminate pediatric HIV by 2015 and keep their mothers alive". Although there are still around 1.7 million people dying from an AIDS-related disease every year, the figure for new infections has been significantly reduced. 

It is estimated that the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by 19 per cent in the last ten years but there are still over 16 million children around the world who have lost a parent because of  the virus.

The programme has many hurdles to overcome in the 36 countries it currently works in. Not only do carers have to identify the women but they have to persuade her to agree to take drugs while she is pregnant and maintain this until her baby is born.

Mr Goosby said that the chance of an infected mother passing the virus onto her baby used to be 30 per cent but, by taking three anti-retroviral drugs, the risk has dropped to two per cent. 

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