The threshold of a new century is an opportune time to review advances in the prevention of HIV infection in children. In the United States, progress in the ability to virtually eliminate perinatal HIV transmission that was unthinkable just a few years ago has been achieved. Clinicians providing care to pregnant women should educate and counsel women about HIV and strongly recommend that they be tested. They should also counsel HIV- infected women about the means available to substantially decrease the risk for HIV transmission to their infants (e.g., antiretroviral drug use, avoidance of breast-feeding, elective C-section, encouraging pregnant women to use barrier methods during sexual intercourse, and to discontinue injection drug use). This article has highlighted some of the remaining challenges that constitute barriers to achieving maximal decrease of HIV infection in children. Studies conducted in resource-poor countries have added greatly to the understanding of vertical transmission of HIV, and they are now leading to practical and affordable approaches to reduce vertical HIV transmission worldwide. The results of this research must lead to coordinated public health action and a global political commitment to extend the benefits of antiretroviral drug prophylaxis that now exist widely in the United States to more resource-poor countries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health