About Perinatal HIV
No child deserves to begin life with HIV, yet it is estimated that 100-300 infants in the United States are infected with HIV annually.1
Prevention of perinatal HIV transmission (also known as mother-to-child transmission) remains critical in many communities in the United States where overall HIV prevalence remains stable or is increasing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, "Between 120,000 to 160,000 women of childbearing age in the United States are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Nearly one out of four of these women don't know they have HIV. This puts them at high risk of passing the virus to their babies."2 Many cases of perinatal HIV infection "involve women who were not tested early enough in pregnancy or who did not receive prevention services."3
PERINATAL HIV: A Call for Action in Your Community
The number of cases of perinatal HIV transmission in the U.S. is quite low. So low in fact that many communities go extended periods of time without a single case. This reality is a testament to the effective efforts of many public health and clinical practitioners.
Unfortunately, we are currently falling short of using all of our prevention tools fully, as exemplified by the following scenarios:
- The rates of HIV infection among women, particularly women of color, are on the rise, but our primary prevention efforts haven't responded effectively.
- A quarter of those infected with HIV are unaware of their status, but HIV testing of pregnant women remains inadequate.
- We have the technology to conduct accurate, rapid HIV testing in emergency departments and labor and delivery wards, but this technology is underutilized.
- HIV infected women, who know their HIV status, tend to be "in the system," but the services they receive rarely include reproductive health care.
The bottom line is this: We have prevention methods that can, and should, ensure that no child begins life with HIV infection. We believe that the FIMR/HIV Prevention Methodology is an effective way for communities to ensure that these methods are used - leaving no opportunity for perinatal HIV prevention to be missed.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. CDC HIV/AID Fact Sheet: Mother-to-Child (Perinatal) HIV Transmission and Prevention. October 2007. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/perinatal/resources/factsheets/pdf/perinatal.pdf. Accessed December 3, 2008.
2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. Pregnancy and Childbirth. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/perinatal/index.htm. Accessed December 3, 2008.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet. Mother-to-Child (Perinatal) HIV Transmission and Prevention. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/perinatal/resources/factsheets/perinatal.htm. Accessed April 7, 2009.