Six more Caribbean territories and states have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, WHO announced on World AIDS Day.
The agency said it certified Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis as having achieved dual elimination.
“This elimination is the result of our strong political commitment to public health and of making the health of mothers, children and families a regional priority,” St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris said in a statement.
According to WHO, HIV incidence among children in the Caribbean has declined by 52% since Pan-American countries pledged in 2010 to eliminate vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis, from 1,800 infections to fewer than 1,000 last year.
However, WHO said cases of congenital syphilis in the region have not declined since 2010 and may be underreported.
In 2015, Cuba became the first country to meet all the requirements for vertical elimination of HIV and syphilis. Since then, WHO has also validated Thailand and Belarus as having achieved dual elimination, Armenia as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the Republic of Moldova as having eliminated congenital syphilis.
The United Nations has pledged to end AIDS and STDs as public health threats by 2030, and the elimination of vertical transmission of HIV and syphilis is seen as an important milestone. WHO said it expects more Caribbean countries will be recognized in 2018.
Disclosure: Harris reports no relevant financial disclosures.