U.S. Officials Launch Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Prevention Program in Haiti
U.S. officials yesterday in Haiti launched an international mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention program, part of President Bush's five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative (HR 1298), the Associated Press reports (Norton, Associated Press, 7/21). Bush's initiative seeks to prevent seven million new HIV infections, provide care for 10 million people living with the disease and provide treatment to two million HIV-positive people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/18). The vertical transmission prevention program, launched at the Study Group for Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections clinic in Port-au-Prince, aims to serve one million women each year and reduce HIV vertical transmission by 40% within five years, according to officials. According to USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, the program hopes to provide HIV testing to 850,000 women and offer antiretroviral drugs to approximately 25,000 HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent vertical transmission. Currently, 4,000 to 6,000 infants each year are born HIV-positive in Haiti, according to the Associated Press. U.S. officials have earmarked $4 million for the first year of the five-year program. The clinic was chosen as the launch site for the program because it is "readiest to go ahead," according to U.S. Ambassador Brian Curran. The clinic treated more than 21,000 HIV/AIDS patients last year, and the group has opened 25 treatment centers throughout Haiti that provide testing, treatment and counseling, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 7/21). More than 5% of Haitian adults ages 15 to 49 are HIV-positive, and approximately 30,000 Haitians died last year of AIDS-related causes, according to UNAIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.