Conference on Vertical Transmission Ends With ‘Call to Action’ Plan Calling for Access to AIDS Drugs for Pregnant Women
The third International Conference on Global Strategies for Prevention of Mother-to-Infant HIV Transmission ended yesterday in Kampala, Uganda, with a "Call to Action" calling for "comprehensive programs to eradicate or drastically reduce vertical transmission of HIV," the Kampala New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. "We call for immediate action for nations to implement countrywide program[s] to prevent HIV infection of infants, to identify HIV-infected women, and to provide treatment for HIV-infected children and mothers," the declaration stated. The plan also says that the action "must include the creation of information programs to raise international awareness of mother-to-child [transmission] issues," as well as the establishment of programs for prenatal care, the "elimination of laws that delay access to life-saving drugs" and the procurement of funds for programs to "directly benefit" women and children at risk of HIV (Eremu, Kampala New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 9/13). According to the document, the cost of drugs to reduce vertical transmission worldwide would be only $2.5 million. Global Strategies for HIV Prevention President Arthur Ammamm said that figure was reached by taking the estimated number of HIV-positive pregnant women throughout the world, with an average transmission rate of 20% and an estimated cost for nevirapine of 80 cents per dose. The $2.5 million estimate excluded the cost of HIV testing and drug administration. "We were trying to say governments have to get past saying they can't afford the drugs ... We wanted to make the point that the cost of the drugs wasn't the issue," Ammamm said. The document noted that 1,800 HIV-positive infants are born every day, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. The HIV transmission rate from mother-to-child without preventive medication is about 30%, but short-course AZT and nevirapine regimens can reduce the transmission rate by nearly 47% in developing countries (Agence France-Presse, 9/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.