June 25, 2013
Due to hygienic deliveries and the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected babies and pregnant HIV-infected women, South Africa's Cotlands childcare facility has closed its AIDS hospice for children. Cotlands is a nonprofit organization that provides care for babies who are up for adoption. The Cotlands AIDS hospice opened in 1996 to care for HIV-infected infants and children who were abandoned or orphaned; by 2002, the hospice often experienced two AIDS deaths per week. However, AIDS deaths at Cotlands hospice stopped in 2008, thanks to ART for HIV-infected babies and increased HIV testing and treatment of pregnant women.
Almost all South African women who visited prenatal clinics received HIV testing. Those diagnosed with HIV received ART and counseling about nutrition and safe delivery, which cut the national rate of mother-to-child transmission to less than three percent in 2011, according to the African Medical Research Council.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS reported similar gains in other countries, including Thailand, where mother-to-child transmission dropped to under five percent. Eighty percent of Caribbean HIV-infected mothers now receive ART. The World Health Organization has considered recommending free, life-long ART for HIV-infected women. However, unequal, gender-based access to treatment could result in tension and conflict for women in countries such as Malawi and Uganda, according to focus groups convened by the Global Network of People Living with HIV.