Use of interventions for reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Australia

Med J Aust. 2001 May 7;174(9):449-52. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143371.x.


Objective: To describe the extent and outcome of use of interventions for reducing the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child in Australia.

Design: National surveillance for perinatal exposure to HIV.

Participants and setting: Notified cases of HIV infection in women in Australia and their perinatally exposed children, 1982-1999.

Outcome measures: Trends over time in use of interventions (antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy, elective caesarean delivery and avoidance of breastfeeding) and perinatally acquired HIV infection.

Results: By 31 March 2000, 204 children were reported as having been born in 1982-1999 to 162 women whose HIV infection had been diagnosed by 31 December 1999. The child's HIV infection status was established for 182 (89.2%); the mother's HIV infection was diagnosed antenatally in 91 of these cases (50%). Among women diagnosed antenatally, use of elective caesarean delivery and antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy increased significantly, from 3% and 14% by women whose children were born in 1982-1993, to 21% (P=0.01) and 88% (P<0.001), respectively, by women whose children were born in 1994-1999. Most women (95%) diagnosed antenatally avoided breastfeeding their children. The percentage of infected children born to women diagnosed antenatally declined from 26% among children born in 1982-1993 to 19% among those born in 1994-1999. The percentage of infected children was significantly lower among those whose mothers used antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy (11% versus 36%; P=0.03).

Conclusion: Antiretroviral use in pregnancy, elective caesarean delivery and avoidance of breastfeeding have been effective interventions for reducing the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission in Australia. While the rate of perinatal HIV transmission has declined, it remains high in comparison with rates reported from other industrialised countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Australia
  • Breast Feeding / adverse effects
  • Cesarean Section*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Antiviral Agents