Cuba is the first country to eliminate mom-to-infant HIV transmission
In 2010 the members of the Pan American Health Organization set the goal to put an end to HIV transmission from mother to infant by 2020. Five years after the goal was set and five years ahead schedule, Cuba has become the first country in the world to achieve it.
Cuba received World Health Organization’s certificate in June 30 in a ceremony celebrated in Washington D.C. This certificate confirms the country has eliminated mother-to-infant HIV transmission.
Every year around 1.4 million women who are diagnosed with HIV get pregnant. If they receive no treatment during the risk period the chance of infecting their unborn child are between 15 and 45 percent (with the treatment with antiretoviral drugs the possibilities are reduced to 1 percent).
“Our health system and political commitment are what made a country with limited resources accomplish this,” said Roberto Morales Ojeda, minister of Public Health of Cuba.
Early detection and the treatment of pregnant women is what has prevented the infection of a great many children in Cuba. All of this has been possible thanks to a health model focused on primary/preventive care.
Cuba has also eliminated mother-to-infant syphilis transmission (around 1 million pregnant women per year are infected with syphilis). The illness can cause the death of the fetus and serious infections in the mother.
The World Health Organization consider that a country has eliminated mom-to-child HIV transmission when only 2 out of every 100 babies born are infected (in 2013 in Cuba only two were infected). In mom-to-child syphilis transmission if 1 out 2.000 births result in an infected newborn, the country is considered to have eliminated the transmission (in Cuba there were only three cases).
Cuba is the first country to get the World Health Organization certification, but there are four more countries waiting to be evaluated (Anguila, Barbados, Jamaica and the Virgin islands). Six countries — Canada and the United States (including Puerto Rico) among them — meet all the requirements to apply for the evaluation. Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala are also very close to starting the process.