South Africa reports new success in saving newborns from HIV

July 19, 2012

About 117,000 babies were saved from HIV infection last year under South Africa's scheme to prevent mothers from passing on the disease during childbirth, health official said Thursday.

Among mothers with HIV, only 2.7 percent passed the virus to their babies in 2011, down from 3.5 percent in 2010, the Medical Research Council said. The rate was eight percent in 2008.

Aaron Motsoaledi told a news conference that the reduction proved the success of the government's programme which gives pregnant women drugs that reduce the chance of their babies catching the virus.

"These results, if sustained, will make a major contribution to our efforts to decrease" deaths of infants and young children, Motsoaledi said.

He added that the anti-retroviral drugs also make it safe for HIV-positive mothers to breast feed their babies.

The medicines reduce the in a mother's body, which in turn reduces the infant's risk of contracting HIV through the umbilical chord or by exposure to the mother's bodily fluids during childbirth or breast feeding.

The newborn also gets a few drops of ARV syrup as an extra boost to fight infection.

South Africa has the world's largest HIV caseload, with six million people currently living with the virus. After years of refusing to roll out drugs, the country now runs the world's largest treatment programme, serving 1.3 million people.

Explore further: South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

Related Stories

South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

December 1, 2011

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections over the next five years, cementing South Africa's turnaround from years of deadly denialism.

Recommended for you

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.