HIV/AIDS

Big Drop in Mom-to-Baby HIV Transmission

The number of infants born with HIV in the United States has dropped dramatically, according to new research. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 69 cases of HIV-infected infants in 2013, compared with 216 cases in 2002.
Cases of mom-to-baby HIV transmission occurred when there was a late HIV diagnosis of mothers and a lack of antiretroviral and preventive treatment, said a team of researchers led by the CDC’s Steven Nesheim.
“Missed opportunities for prevention were common among infected infants and their mothers in recent years,” researchers wrote.
David Rosenthal, director of the Center for Young Adult, Adolescent and Pediatric HIV in Great Neck, New York, and an HIV expert who reviewed the research, pointed out other disparities.
“More than 80 percent of new cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV are from mothers who are black/African American and Hispanic/Latino,” he said. And he noted that five Southern states—Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Texas—accounted for a startling 38 percent of the new cases of HIV in the U.S.
In spite of that, Rosenthal said we’ve made significant progress. “We have made great strides in decreasing HIV in mother-to-child transmission in the USA,” he said. “In New York State alone in the 1990s we had more than 500 new cases of mother-to-child transmission a year, but now in 2015-2016, we had an 18-month period with zero new mother-to-child transmissions.”
Three factors are key to this decrease: early diagnosis of HIV in pregnancy, use of HIV-fighting medications by the mother and treatment of the infant with anti-HIV meds for six weeks after birth.
“Together, these methods are incredibly effective in decreasing mother-to-child transmission,” Rosenthal said. “I take care of many patients who were born with HIV, are taking their medications and are thriving. These children have grown up over the past two to three decades, and in turn are having their own children now, all of whom are not infected with HIV because of the tools we have.”
To continue this trend, he said, “we have to help ensure mothers receive good medical care early in their pregnancy, and we need to ensure that mothers of all races and ethnicities receive the same outstanding medical care we offer.”

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