Skip to content

Reversing the HIV Tide for Africa’s Mothers and Children

The introduction of antiretroviral drugs has resulted in a remarkable decline in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. New infections among children declined by 52% worldwide and 55% in sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2019. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for eight out of ten new infections among children. Research suggests that new infections among children in this region have fallen from 283,000 in 2010 to 126,000 in 2019, but progress is uneven. While most countries in southern and eastern Africa have scaled up their prevention programmes and achieved results, the countries in west and central Africa are lagging. Some countries have even recorded an increase in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Uneven transmission mirrors the gaps in testing of pregnant women. For example, South Africa has reduced mother-to-child transmission to less than 4% by 2016 by ramping up testing of pregnant women and providing antiretroviral therapy. But in most west and central African countries, the rate of prenatal testing is low and the average transmission rate is 20%.