Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission in South Africa

Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Peter BarronAmeena Goga


The World Health Organization has produced clear guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, ensuring that all PMTCT programme components are implemented to a high quality in all facilities presents challenges. Although South Africa initiated its PMTCT programme in 2002, later than most other countries, political support has increased since 2008. Operational research has received more attention and objective data have been used more effectively. In 2010, around 30% of all pregnant women in South Africa were HIV-positive and half of all deaths in children younger than 5 years were associated with the virus. Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated proportion of HIV-exposed infants younger than 2 months who underwent routine polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect early HIV transmission increased from 36.6% to 70.4%. The estimated HIV transmission rate decreased from 9.6% to 2.8%. Population-based surveys in 2010 and 2011 reported transmission rates of 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively. CRITICAL ACTIONS FOR IMPROVING PROGRAMME OUTCOMES INCLUDED: ensuring rapid implementation of changes in PMTCT policy at the field level through training and guideline diss...Continue Reading


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