In the developing countries, an estimated 2.5 million children under the age of 15 were living with HIV in
2009, and there were some 370 000 new HIV paediatric infections. Nearly all of these new infections could have been
avoided with effective prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) interventions. Any intervention dispensed
with, mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) rates range from 15-30% without breastfeeding to 30-45% with prolonged
breastfeeding. In developing countries, where elective caesarean section and breastfeeding avoidance are generally unsafe
or unaccepted options, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have been documented to reduce MTCT to 2% or below.
Even though substantial achievements were recently reported in PMTCT in implementing Sub-Saharan Africa highburden
countries, much more has quickly to be done to virtually eliminate MTCT of HIV by 2015. To this aim, plenty of
commitment and coordinated action by all involved parties, including the private sector, are needed.
The challenges and critical points bound-up with the desired PMTCT outcomes are discussed in this review, in the light of
2010 revised WHO recommendations for PMTCT in low-income HIV settings.
They recommend HIV-infected pregnant women to start ARV therapy for their own health at CD4 cell count ≤ 350/mm3.
Additionally, they promote the use of ARVs for prophylaxis earlier in pregnancy, beginning at 14 weeks and continuing
through the end of breastfeeding period. Moreover, in countries where breastfeeding is judged to be the best option, HIVinfected
mothers (whose infants are uninfected or unknown status) are recommended to continue breastfeeding for the
first 12 months of life, provided they are taking ARVs during that period.