Unless something catastrophic happens to Grenada and the other OECS member states with regards to mother to child transmission of HIV, the sub region can become the first area in the world to declare that it has eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV by the time the 2015 Millennium Development report is presented to the United Nations.
United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean Professor Edward Greene said that though the hope is for Caricom as a block to be declared as achieving this milestone in the fight against HIV it appears that the OECS members are well ahead in their efforts.
“For example, Grenada has had zero transmission of mother to child for many years now and the mothers are HIV positive. St Lucia and St Kitts/Nevis are like Grenada and those other territories in the OECS block are in the 90s with the exception of St Vincent whose data shows that the situation is not far from the other islands,” said Greene.
He explained that medical elimination is declared by the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization for any disease when cases are less that 5% because there will always be that legacy small pockets of the disease identified.
“So where the situation in Guyana and Haiti is higher terms of transmission from mother to child, what is certain is that within the OECS there are zero cases in most of the islands and so it’s safe to say the OECS is truly on the road to elimination,” he said.
PAHO officials are expected to be in Grenada within the coming weeks to conduct a review of the ministry of Health data with regards to mother to child transmission over the years and at the same time assess the steps taken by the National Infectious Disease Control Unit in treating pregnant mothers.
Though not compulsory, all pregnant women are encouraged to know their HIV status. Anyone diagnosed with a HIV+ result is immediately provided with treatment both for herself and to ensure that the baby is born free of HIV.
by Linda Straker