Fewer South African babies infected with HIV

A slightly higher proportion of babies were saved from HIV infection in 2011 than in the previous year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.

“It has proven that putting mothers and infants on treatment early on really works,” Motsoaledi told media in Johannesburg.

An estimated 104,000 babies out of 117,000 (89 percent) were saved from HIV infection in 2010.

In 2011, another 3000 babies were saved to increase the proportion to 91 percent of 117,000 babies.

This was established by research done by the Medical Research Council on the effectiveness of mother-to-child transmission programmes on babies aged four to six weeks.

The figures are based on the assumption that 32.2 percent of live births were HIV exposed and that 30 percent of HIV-exposed babies would be HIV-infected by eight weeks if there was no intervention.

Motsoaledi said it was particularly pleasing that the biggest drop in HIV transmissions was in KwaZulu-Natal, which had the highest prevalence of HIV/Aids.

At this rate, South Africa should be on course to achieve the United Nations target of eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015. – Sapa