In 2013, Cuba had just two cases of babies born with HIV. Two years later, global health agencies declared that the island nation had become the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of the disease.

“It proved that we can win these battles,” said Massimo Ghidinelli, MD, unit chief for HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections at the Pan American Health Organization. “It showed us that political commitment is essential, but that the context in which these interventions are implemented are equally essential.”

Each year, according to the World Health Organization, about 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant. If their HIV infection goes untreated, they have an upward of 45 percent chance of transmitting the virus to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. If they and their children receive antiretroviral treatment, that risk drops to about 1 percent.

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