The Mother of All HIV Challenges

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Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2160-2163
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2160

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AIDS researchers are finding cheaper and simpler ways to slow the spread of HIV from mother to child, and more pregnant women, even in the poorest countries, have access to anti-HIV drugs and formula--thanks to the largesse of donors, discounts from industry, new trade laws, and the tenacity of individual clinicians. But just as researchers offer ways to clear one enormous hurdle--drug availability--they run smack into other ones, ranging from social stigmas that discourage testing to disinterest on the part of cash-strapped health authorities to a deeply ingrained culture of breast-feeding--often supported by government policy for otherwise sound health reasons.