Beyond Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission: Keeping HIV-Exposed and HIV-Positive Children Healthy and Alive

Journal Article
  • Scott E. Kellerman
  • Saeed Ahmed
  • Theresa Feeley-Summerl
  • Jonathan Jay
  • Ryan B. Phelps
  • Nandita Sugandhi
  • Erik Schouten
  • Mike Tolle
  • Fatima Tsiouris
Nov. 2013; 27 (supplement 2): S225-233. DOI: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000107.
In 2011, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS announced a plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015. This increased focus on the elimination of maternal to child transmission (MTCT) is most welcome but is insufficient, as access to prevention of MTCT (PMTCT) programming is neither uniform nor universal. A new and more expansive agenda must be articulated to ensure that those infants and children who will never feel the impact of the current elimination agenda are reached and linked to appropriate care and treatment. This agenda must addresses challenges around both reducing vertical transmission through PMTCT and ensuring access to appropriate HIV testing, care, and treatment for all affected children who were never able to access PMTCT programming. Option B+, or universal test and treat for HIV-infected pregnant women, is an excellent start, but it may be time to rethink our current approaches to delivering PMTCT services. New strategies will reduce vertical transmission to less than 1% for those mother-infant pairs who can access them allowing for the contemplation of not just PMTCT, but actual elimination of MTCT. But expanded thinking is needed to ensure elimination of pediatric HIV.