The prevalence of HIV infection in women has steadily increased since the early 1990s, primarily through heterosexual transmission and is now the leading cause of mortality among women of reproductive age worldwide. In southern Africa, HIV is also estimated to be directly responsible for 12-15% of all child mortality. Furthermore, the risk of death for children of mothers living with HIV is not only due to becoming HIV-infected themselves, but also indirectly increased by the effect of HIV on mothers who become unable to care for their infants and families. When a motherâs CD4 count drops below 200cells/ml, then all of her children are 3.5 times more likely to die, and when a mother dies her children are 4.2 times more likely to die. A comprehensive approach to preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is designed not only to save infants becoming infected with HIV, but preventing HIV among women and young girls, and preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV.
Last date updated on July, 2014