Many countries in the world especially in Africa , still grapple with the war against HIV a scourge that will not go away.
The biggest threat has remained the transmission of the virus from mother to child which brings in new numbers of HIV infections delaying progress.
However it has been a win situation for Cuba in North America which the World Health Organization on Tuesday declared as the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and Syphilis from mother to child.
The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation.
In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.
“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.
Cuba’s Communist government considers its free healthcare a major achievement of the 1959 revolution, although ordinary Cubans complain of a decline in standards since the fall of the Soviet Union, the country’s former benefactor, in 1991.
Around the world each year, an estimated 1.4 million HIV-positive women become pregnant.
Without any intervention, they have a 15 to 45 percent chance of passing the virus onto their children while they’re in the womb, as well as during labour, delivery and breastfeeding.
But that risk drops to just 1 percent if both mother and child receive antiretrovirals.
The PAHO and WHO credited Cuba with offering women early access to prenatal care, HIV and syphilis testing, and treatment for mothers who test positive.
The two organizations began an effort to end congenital transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba and other countries in the Americas in 2010.
WHO counts a country as having eliminated mother-to-baby transmissions when the rate of children born with HIV or syphilis is so low that it “no longer constitutes a public health problem”.
Basically that means a country needs to have less than 50 cases of HIV and syphilis per 100,000 live births, maintained for at least a year, as well as at least 95 percent of pregnant women being tested for the diseases, and 95 percent of those who test positive receiving proper treatment.