Issue brief |

PMTCT Background Document

In 2007 an estimated 420,000 children were newly infected with HIV; about 87% of those infections happened in sub-Saharan Africa, 0.001% in North America. The majority of these children become infected during pregnancy, delivery or during the breast-feeding period (mainly in areas where safe and affordable replacement feeding is not available).

The developed world has been successful in reducing the rate of transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child to below 2% or even lower.  However, in developing countries transmission rates remain unacceptably high in most places.

Why is this happening?

For sure, the reason for this is two fold: on a public health scale it is a question of coverage: today, the majority of women in resource-poor countries are not accessing  PMTCT services, and then within PMTCT services the question of best-practice protocols and their implementation is fundamental. Both these issues become interlinked where complex protocols become a potential obstacle to large scale roll-out.