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Current Opinion in Pediatrics:
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32831ec353
Infectious diseases and immunization: Edited by Robert S. Baltimore and Hal B. Jenson

Update on successes and challenges regarding mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Paintsil, Elijaha,b; Andiman, Warren Aa,c

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Abstract

Purpose of review: There is an unprecedented global commitment to reverse the pediatric HIV epidemic by making prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services accessible in all countries. This review outlines the successes made and the challenges that remain.

Recent findings: In resource-rich countries, mother-to-child transmission rates of HIV as low as 1% have been achieved. The efficacy of short-course antiretrovirals for PMTCT in Africa is estimated at 50%. Coinfections with herpes simplex virus type 2, other sexually transmitted infections resulting in genital ulcers, and endemic infectious diseases (e.g., malaria) may increase the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Vertical transmission of drug-resistant viruses has been reported; the prevalence and effect of transmitted resistant virus on treatment outcomes are under investigation. Obstacles facing PMTCT in resource-limited countries include the lack of healthcare infrastructure, limited manpower, and competing public health priorities with the limited healthcare budget.

Summary: Although the birth of an HIV-infected child in a resource-rich country is now a sentinel health event, in most resource-limited countries the birth of an HIV-infected child continues to be the status quo. Comprehensive PMTCT, including antiretroviral treatment for HIV-infected women and children, should be paramount in resource-limited countries.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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