S. African Government Program Reduced MTCT HIV Tranmission Rate To 3.5%, Study Shows

The South African government’s program to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV has reduced the rate of virus transmission to about 3.5 percent, “potentially sparing some 67,000 babies from HIV infection,” according to research presented on Wednesday by the Medical Research Council at the 5th South African AIDS Conference in Durban, Health-e/allAfrica.com reports (Thom, 6/9).

“An inaugural national evaluation survey among the world’s biggest AIDS population tested 9,915 infants at public clinics, of whom 31.4 percent were exposed to the virus but only 3.5 percent tested positive, the government research body said,” according to Agence France-Presse. The study will be repeated for two more years, and infants will be followed for 18 months, the news service notes (6/9).

Also at the conference, Mark Heywood, deputy chair of the South African National AIDS Council (Sanac), said about 1.4 million South Africans were receiving antiretroviral therapy, a number closer to the goal set forth in the national strategic plan than was expected, the Mail & Guardian reports. “Several sessions at the AIDS conference attempted to garner input on what should be included in the next plan, which will guide the country’s response to HIV/Aids over the next four years,” the newspaper writes (Thom, 6/10).