“The elimination of the transmission of a virus is one of the greatest possible achievements in public health”, said Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “This is an important victory in our long struggle against hiv and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards an hiv-free Generation”, he concluded.
This achievement of Cuba is an example for all other countries that universal access to treatment is essential to achieve the eradication of hiv, and the 90-90-90 goals, proposed by UNAIDS. In addition to this, we demonstrate that the hiv epidemic is possible.
More than 1.4 million women with hiv become pregnant annually in the world. If they do not receive appropriate antiretroviral treatment, they might have a 15% to 45% chance of transmitting HIV to their children. However, this risk is reduced to slightly more than 1% if the mother and her child receive antiretroviral drugs in the stages where infection can occur.
Mother-to-child transmission of these diseases is considered eliminated when infection rates are brought to levels so low that they cease to be considered a public health problem. In the case of hiv, this is defined as less than 2 of every 100 babies born of women with hiv, which is the lowest rate considered to be possible to achieve with prevention methods available today. In the case of syphilis, the elimination is defined as less than 1 case per 2,000 born babies.
In addition to Cuba, there are six more countries and territories of the Americas that are almost able to request the validation of the double-elimination of these diseases. These countries include Anguilla, Barbados, Canada, United States, Montserrat, and Puerto Rico. Eight of them would have eliminated only the mother-to-child hiv transmission, and 14 would have eliminated only the transmission of congenital syphilis.
Let’s hope that this example of success thanks to the perseverance, dedication and hard work, will serve as inspiration to make us realize that it’s not only possible to eradicate the transmission from mother to child, but the total eradication of hiv through any possible route of transmission.