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Almost all babies born to HIV positive mothers can be free from the disease if appropriate antiretroviral drugs are administered, research has suggested.
The biggest study to date into rates of transmission between mothers and babies found 99% of babies were born uninfected if recommended interventions were followed during pregnancy.
The infant infection rate was just 1.2% in the study – a huge drop on figures of around 20% in 1993. Researchers said it was the first time such low rates of infection have been observed at a population level.
The study, published by Aids online, noted that most women now accept antenatal testing for HIV, which has had an effect on reducing transmission rates.
It said: “Uptake of antenatal HIV testing rose rapidly following the introduction of routine screening policies in 1999 in Ireland and between 2000 and 2003 in the UK, with the estimated proportion of infected women diagnosed before delivery increasing from about 70% in 2000 to about 95% since 2005.”
Researchers also noted that most HIV positive women now take a combination of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs during pregnancy.
Data was analysed for 5,930 babies born to HIV mothers in the UK and Ireland between 2000 and 2006.
Transmission rates for women on ART for at least the last 14 days of pregnancy were 0.8%, regardless of type of therapy they received or whether they had a vaginal or caesarean birth.
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