Number of U.S. Infants Born with HIV Declined by 80% in Last 10 Years, CDC Study Says
The number of infants with HIV born in the United States decreased by 80% from 1991 to 2000, CDC researchers revealed today at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain. According to the AP/Hartford Courant, the decrease is due to increased voluntary counseling and screening by pregnant women and subsequent use of antiretroviral drugs. Between 1991 and 2000, the number of mothers in the United States with HIV rose from approximately 80,000 to as many as 135,500. With advances in treatment methods, the rate of vertical transmission was reduced from 25% for untreated mothers to 2% for mothers taking combination therapy, CDC researchers said. Still, even with the "best antiretroviral treatment," as many as 130 babies would be born in the U.S. each year with HIV, according to CDC researcher Patricia Fleming (Socolovsky, AP/Hartford Courant, 7/9). CDC scientists called the study's results "encouraging" because they demonstrate that vertical transmission rates can be cut (Reuters/Detroit Free-Press, 7/9). CDC officials said similar vertical transmission prevention programs must be employed in developing nations, where about 700,000 babies with HIV were born last year.
Rise in Infected Women Could Translate to Rise in Vertical Transmission
Although the results were encouraging, CDC researchers warned that the number of women contracting HIV in the United States is rising, possibly making it more difficult to stem mother-to-child transmission (AP/Hartford Courant, 7/9). "Unless we reduce the number of new infections in women, it will be difficult to achieve further reductions in newborn infections," Fleming said (Reaney, Reuters/Detroit Free Press, 7/9).