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Kerry: 1 million babies saved from HIV infection

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   June 18, 2013 at 3:11 PM   |   Comments

June 18 (UPI) -- At a ceremony lauding the 10th anniversary of the anti-AIDS initiative PEPFAR, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the program had achieved a remarkable milestone: 1 million babies born to HIV-positive mothers had been born free of the disease.

The United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which works in 36 countries to eradicate AIDS and the virus that causes it, is part of the president's Global Heath Initiative.

One of its programs has been to prevent mother-to-baby transmission of the virus by administering anti-retroviral drugs that now can drastically improve the chances of a baby being born HIV-free.

"I am honored to make a very special announcement today, an announcement that we could literally only have dreamed about 10 years ago," Kerry said at the anniversary event. "Thanks to the support of PEPFAR, we have saved the one millionth baby from becoming infected with HIV. That is a remarkable step."

Effective administration of anti-retroviral drugs to expectant mothers reduces the chance of a baby being born HIV-positive from 30 percent to about 2 percent.

PEPFAR also celebrated 13 countries reaching the so-called "tipping point" of their epidemic, in which fewer people contract the virus than those who are on treatment.

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