Elimination of the Perinatal Transmission of HIV and Syphilis in Puerto Rico and Sustained Success since 2007: Convergence of Science, Women-Centered Care, and Policy

Carmen D. Zorrilla, Linnette Rodríguez-Figueroa, Sandra Miranda-De León, Bernardita López-Alvarado, Eileen Pérez, Silvia E. Rabionet


Objective: There have been significant successes in the fight against HIV/AIDS due to the access to rapid HIV testing, interventions to reduce the mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) risk, potent and effective antiviral medications, and other biomedical prevention strategies. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate that Puerto Rico eliminated Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (MTCT) following the 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for validating the elimination of MTCT and Syphilis. Methods: Existing epidemiological data from Puerto Rico was used to document the elimination of MTCT and Syphilis. Data to calculate the indicators was obtained from the various divisions of the Puerto Rico Department of Health, including vital statistics, surveillance data, and programmatic outcomes. Results: Puerto Rico eliminated MTCT and syphilis, according to the WHO indicators, earlier than other countries. We can trace the outcomes to 1994 using the incidence rate of perinatally-acquired HIV of <50/100,000; to 2007 using HIV perinatal transmission rates for non breastfeeding countries (<2%), to 2008 using 90% of women receiving ART at delivery, and to 2005 using the incidence rate of congenital syphilis of <50/100,000. Conclusion: Not only have we eliminated the MTCT of HIV and syphilis, but the efforts have been sustained since 2000. The elimination of transmission of infectious diseases requires the intersection of scientific feasibility, coordinated interventions, and political will, successfully attained in Puerto Rico.


Perinatal HIV transmission, HIV and Syphilis, HIV and pregnancy, Women-centered HIV Care, Elimination Mother to Child HIV Transmission

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