"The reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission is one of the biggest success stories of the HIV epidemic," said Thomas Liberti, chief of the bureau of HIV/AIDS in the Florida Department of Health. "The question is, 'How low can we go?'"
The UF researchers teamed with colleagues in the Florida Department of Health Perinatal Prevention Division to review pediatric HIV data for the period from 2002-09, and found 102 cases.
Despite the many effective measures in place to help prevent HIV-transmission to babies, there are missed opportunities, the researchers found.
Mothers of half of the infected babies tested positive for HIV before becoming pregnant. But some refused or neglected to take the medications that could have kept their babies HIV-free. Some had no prenatal care, and so did not receive available treatments.
Some women were HIV-negative at the start of their pregnancy, but became infected afterward. Others were diagnosed with HIV only after the birth of their babies. Repeat testing during pregnancy and rapid testing during labor and delivery would have alerted health care providers.
The study shows that for some women, the issue might not be a lack of availability of medical services. Mental illness, intravenous drug use and incarceration and other risk factors associated with increased risk of HIV infection affected about one-third of the women who delivered infected babies. Mental health and substance abuse issues often prevent women from taking advantage of medical care or adhering to a treatment regimen prescribed by their physicians.
Finding creative ways to address issues such as the shortage of mental health-care providers will help women and their babies get needed care, the researchers
|Contact: Czerne M. Reid|
University of Florida