News Focus17TH CONFERENCE ON RETROVIRUSES AND OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTIONS, 16-19 FEBRUARY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Limits of Success

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Science  05 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5970, pp. 1197
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5970.1197

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Summary

Huge disparities in access to proven methods to thwart HIV still exist between rich and poor countries. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission efforts are a case in point, according to work presented at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. In wealthy countries, where HIV-infected pregnant women receive cocktails of antiretroviral drugs and do not breastfeed, fewer than 2% transmit the virus to their babies. That's a drop from as high as 40% of the women who receive no treatment and breastfeed. According to the best estimates, 480,000 babies worldwide became infected in 2008, with a mere 21% of pregnant women receiving an HIV test and only 45% of those who tested positive receiving drugs to prevent infection—and that treatment was often suboptimal.