It is pleasing that a slightly higher proportion of babies were saved from HIV infection in 2011 compared to last year, said ANC chief whip Mathole Mothekga.
"This shows that the National Strategic Plan against HIV and Aids, unveiled by President Jacob Zuma late last year, and programmes we have in place to deal with HIV/Aids infection are working," he said.
"This proves that we are dedicated to saving lives and that testing for HIV infection for mother-to-child and placing them on treatment programmes has assisted in reducing risk."
Earlier, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that an estimated 104 000 babies out of 117 000 (89%) were saved from HIV infection in 2010. In 2011, another 3000 babies were saved to increase the proportion to 91% of 117 000 babies.
How the research was done
This was established by research done by the Medical Research Council and Centres for Disease Control and Infection on the effectiveness of mother-to-child transmission programmes on babies aged four to six weeks.
The figures were based on the assumption that 32.2% of live births were HIV-exposed and that 30% of HIV-exposed babies would be HIV-infected by eight weeks if there was no intervention.
Motsoaledi said it was particularly pleasing and significant that the biggest drop in HIV transmissions was in KwaZulu-Natal, which had the highest prevalence of HIV/Aids.
Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West had also shown significant declines.
"Given the concerted effort by the ANC-led government to deal with this pandemic, we are encouraged that South Africa is on track to reach the UN target of eliminating new HIV infection rates by 2015," he said.
(Sapa, July 2012)
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