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Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV

A mother breastfeeding her infantTransmission of HIV from and infected mother can occur during pregnancy, during labour or after delivery through breast milk. 

In the absence of any intervention an estimated 15-30 percent of mothers with HIV infection will transmit the infection during pregnancy and delivery, and 10-20 percent through breast milk.

The Department of Reproductive Health and Research collaborates with partners to advance knowledge on the effectiveness, safety and practicality of mother-to-child transmission interventions. It also works to integrate these interventions into existing reproductive health care services in the most effective manner.


Selection and Use of Nevirapine: Technical Notes  (WHO/RHR/01.21). 

Choix et utilisation de la nÚvirapine: Notes techniques (WHO/RHR/01.21). 

Effect of breastfeeding on Mortality among HIV-Infected Women

WHO Technical Consultation on Behalf of the UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team on Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV 
Geneva, 11-13 October 2000

PMTCT monthly publications report

 > How to order


WHO and UNAIDS continue to support use of Nevirapine for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Joint WHO/UNAIDS Press statement, 22 March 2002.

> Full text html


Breastfeeding and Replacement Feeding Practices in the Context of Mother-To-Child Transmission of HIV - An Assessment Tool for Research

> Abstract/Full text html

> Full text Word (33 pages, 270 KB) 

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Unsafe Sex Kills

Expert group stresses that unsafe sex is primary mode of transmission of HIV in Africa

Following a review of evidence, which included recent articles suggesting that a majority of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are due to unsafe medical practices, particularly injections, an expert consultation hosted by WHO and UNAIDS concluded that such suggestions are not supported by the vast majority of evidence and that unsafe sexual practices continue to be responsible for the overwhelming majority of infections. While a combination of prevention measures are required to tackle all modes of HIV transmission, safer sex promotion must remain the primary feature of prevention programmes in the region.

- Read Press Statement

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Press Release

Balanced diet plays vital role in HIV/AIDS care

Photo of woman selling vegetables

25 February 2003 -- A manual released by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization highlights the importance of a balanced diet for people living with HIV/AIDS. The guide includes practical dietary advice on maintaining body weight and boosting energy levels, plus nutritional remedies to ease HIV/AIDS symptoms.

- HIV/AIDS Media Centre
- Read Press Release

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Expanding Access to HIV Treatment

On 12 December, a new initiative has been launched to promote international cooperation in expanding access to HIV treatments for all those that need them. The International Treatment Access Coalition (ITAC) is a network of NGOs, international organizations, donors, developing countries and research institutions. It will serve as a platform for national and international advocacy on HIV treatment access, analyse and disseminate information and knowledge on pilot programs to guide scale up, and pool technical expertise to support the implementation of national programs.

Simultaneously, a report on ITAC has been released: A Commitment to Action for Expanded Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment: International HIV Treatment Access Coalition.

Picture of pill

In industrialized countries, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have greatly improved the prognosis for people living with HIV/AIDS. However, 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries, where access to these medicines remains unacceptably limited. As new resources are becoming available to provide HIV/AIDS treatment and care, major opportunities now exist to greatly expand coverage, but challenges remain in order to implement national treatment programs.


- ITAC website
- Coverage of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in Developing Countries (table, html format)
- Press release on the launch of ITAC

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AIDS Epidemic Update 2002

WHO has released on 26 November, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the AIDS Epidemic Update, December 2002 with estimates based on the most recent available data on the spread of HIV in countries around the world.

There are 42 million people living with HIV/AIDS world-wide. 38.6 million of these are adults, 19.2 million are women and 3.2 million are children under the age of 15. Five million new infections with HIV occured in 2002 of which 4.2 million were adults and 2 million of them were women. A total of 3.1 million people died of HIV/AIDS related causes in 2002.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of HIV positive individuals (29.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS) followed by South and South-East Asia (6 million). In North America there are 980,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, 570,000 in Western Europe and 1.2 million in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The number of HIV positive individuals in Australia and New Zealand has remained constant since 2001 (15,000 people). In Latin America and the Caribbean the figure is 1.5 million and 440,000 respectively. East Asia and the Pacific have 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS. North Africa and the Middle East have 550,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.


- AIDS Epidemic Update

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   Other News

The World Health Report 2002 Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life
Some of the main findings in the Report related to HIV/AIDS are summarized in the
Full Story

World AIDS Campaign
For 2002-2003, World Aids Day will have a special theme: "Live and Let Live", focusing on eliminating stigma and discrimination which are major obstacles to effective HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
More information

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