Key factors for keeping mothers from passing HIV to infants

Over 90% of children in Kenya living with HIV were exposed to the virus while in their mothers’ wombs. While antiretroviral therapy (ART) is widely available, there are still far too many pregnant women who don’t get treatment. A new study co-authored by UCSF Bixby Center researchers identified several factors linked to mothers passing HIV on to infants:
  • Lack of awareness of their HIV status, which could be related to stigma that keeps women from getting tested.
  • Poor involvement of male partners in preventive care for pregnant women.
  • Difficulty sticking to treatment. Women who reported missing medication had 8 times higher transmission to infants, while all women whose children were HIV-negative reported receiving ART.
  • Poor quality of HIV counseling and education.

Achieving an AIDS free generation requires a renewed focus on minimizing transmission of HIV from mothers to infants – and that requires a focus on women, their partners and the healthcare institutions that serve them. The researchers emphasize that urgent action is needed to deliver high-quality, comprehensive preventive services to pregnant women with HIV.