While the U.S. has not yet eliminated perinatal HIV transmissions, the number of infants born with the virus continues to fall, researchers noted in AIDS.
In 1993, 1,630 babies acquired HIV before, during, or soon after birth. In 2015, that figure had dropped to 53, an unprecedentedly low number. This success can be attributed to several interventions: routine opt-out HIV testing and, if necessary, antiretroviral treatment, during pregnancy; cesarean section in women with high viral loads; and no breastfeeding by women living with HIV.
Yet, disparities remain, with African-American women and those in the Southern U.S. most vulnerable to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. Furthermore, ending MTCT is not a one-time goal, but requires ongoing investment, researchers warned. They called for perinatal HIV surveillance systems, research into optimized treatment strategies and a cure for HIV, and concerted efforts to prevent seroconversion in pregnant women, among other strategies, to achieve zero perinatal HIV transmissions in the U.S.