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News > Nicaragua

Nicaragua Prioritizes Eradicating Mother-Child HIV Transmission

  • A nurse tests a blood sample during a free HIV test.

    A nurse tests a blood sample during a free HIV test. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 June 2017

WHO emphasizes the importance of universal health access in eliminating the disease's transmission after studying Cuba, the first country to do so.

The Ministry of Health in the Sandinista government of Nicaragua has prioritized the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the country's Vice President said Tuesday according to local media.

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“God willing, we are going to eradicate the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child in the prenatal period, by guaranteeing treatment to all pregnant women who present the virus,” Vice President Rosario Murillo said.

The Vice President noted the significant progress that has been made toward guaranteeing universal treatment to those with HIV in recent years.

It was noted that only a decade ago, of 47 pregnant women in Nicaragua who were HIV positive, 45 of them gave birth to HIV positive children. By 2016, this figure had dropped to an unprecedented 2 HIV positive children out of a total of 114 HIV positive mothers.

In statistics for 2016, 1,111 new HIV cases were registered in the country, putting the prevalence rate at 18.4 per 100,000 in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua has also committed to combatting the widespread and deeply rooted stigma that is associated with HIV. Government representatives have said that discrimination against women with HIV is a major obstacle preventing many women from seeking testing and treatment.

The World Health Organization launched an initiative in 2011 calling for the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission, which led to an increase in advocacy and development toward that goal around the world.

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In 2015, Cuba became the first country in the world to be confirmed by WHO as having successfully eradicated mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis, followed by Thailand and Belarus.

WHO has attributed Cuba's early success in this field to its strong health-care system and high government prioritization of health development over a long period of time.

“Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis is possible when governments are committed to the health of their populations and to achieving universal health coverage,” WHO said in a study which analyzed the success of Cuba and Thailand.

In order to achieve validation of the disease's elimination, countries must “meet three impact and five process targets, have a high-quality monitoring and surveillance system and respect basic human rights considerations, such as voluntary testing and treatment, equality, and non-discrimination,” according to WHO.

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