Transmission of HIV to children before or at birth has dropped dramatically around the country in the last decade since the advent of powerful new therapies. That certainly is true for Florida, where each year, fewer than 10 babies are born with the disease despite the fact that more than 600 HIV-positive women each year, on average, give birth.
Still, more can be done to even further reduce the number of babies born with the disease, say pediatric HIV experts at the University of Florida who this week presented their work during the 18th International AIDS conference in Vienna, Austria.
"This is one of those diseases for which we learned how to prevent transmission. We need to make full use of this method and our energies need to be focused on the effort," said lead researcher Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, and director of the UF Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Service.
Around the United States, the decreasing number of pediatric infections is a direct result of the advent of powerful anti-HIV therapies in the mid-1990s and the establishment of protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat pregnant women who are infected, and their babies.
Increased HIV-testing outreach and education efforts have also paid off. And CDC guidelines for "opt-out" HIV-testing for pregnant women mean testing is a routine part of their care, and women would have to specifically decline it. Rapid testing during labor and delivery gives one last chance to administer therapies that can prevent transmission.
In Florida, the Targeted Outreach for Pregnant Women Act of 1998 was enacted to help improve prenatal care and reduce the number of babies with HIV or prenatal drug exposure.
After New York, Florida has the second highest number of babies born to HIV-positive women. The sta
|Contact: Czerne M. Reid|
University of Florida