IAS Joins Calls to Eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Geneva, Switzerland -- International AIDS Society (IAS) today joined the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in its call for the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV.

"There is overwhelming scientific evidence to show that providing antiretroviral treatment to pregnant women will both save the woman's life and prevent her unborn child from becoming infected. This treatment is available and affordable, yet too many countries have reported that less than 25% of HIV-positive pregnant women received it. In fact, in 2007, only 21% of women in low- and middle-income countries were routinely tested for HIV as part of their pre-natal care," said Dr Julio Montaner, IAS President and Director of the Canadian-based British Columbia Center for Excellence (BC-CfE) in HIV/AIDS.

"It is our moral obligation to make every effort to prevent this needless loss of life and to protect the health of mothers and their children. Each AIDS-related maternal death, and each new HIV infection of a newborn or infant is a needless tragedy," said Dr Montaner.

Dr. Montaner went further in calling for dramatically scaled up HIV testing and the availability of treatment for all HIV-positive persons. "HIV is a disease that affects the whole family, the whole community. Making treatment available to everyone who is ready to adhere to the medications, and well before any clinical symptoms of HIV disease, will keep people alive and productive in their communities. We must fight to ensure that the human rights of people living with and most affected by HIV are protected by legislation and policy so that more people come forward for testing, and so that testing can be offered routinely and ethically in health care settings. Early testing and treatment will contribute to more effective prevention, especially when combined with other proven preventative interventions."