Cuba has become the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The World Health Organisation described the news as “one of the greatest public health achievement’s possible”. UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé said Cuba has shown the world that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible. “We expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children,” he said.
Increased access to antiretroviral drugs was a major contributor to Cuba’s accomplishment. It’s estimated that 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant per year. Without treatment, there is up to a 45 percent chance of the virus being transmitted during pregnancy, labour or breastfeeding. That risk dramatically drops to around 1 percent if both the mother and baby are given treatment throughout the stages when HIV infection commonly occurs.