Children Born to HIV-1-Infected Women in Sweden in 1982-2003: Trends in Epidemiology and Vertical Transmission

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To describe the HIV-1 epidemic among childbearing women and their children in Sweden, a population-based analysis of data on all known mother-child pairs in Sweden with perinatal exposure to HIV-1 1982-2003 was conducted. The mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) rate in children prospectively followed from birth decreased from 24.7% in 1985-1993 to 5.7% in 1994-1998 and 0.6% in 1999-2003. The use of antiretroviral treatment of the mother during pregnancy and/or prophylactic antiretroviral intervention increased from 2.3% to 91.6% during the same period, and the elective cesarean delivery rate increased from 8.0% to 80.3%. No MTCT of HIV-1 occurred in Sweden after 1999.


Fifty-one vertically HIV-1-infected children aged 2.7 to 17.6 years were living in Sweden by 31 December 2003, 71% being treated with antiretroviral agents. No HIV-1-related child death has been reported in Sweden after 1996. The conclusion is that MTCT of HIV-1 can be almost eliminated when appropriate resources are available. A national pregnancy screening program for HIV-1 running since 1987 with a high acceptance rate and the implementation of measures to prevent MTCT since 1994 have resulted in a significant decrease in the number of infected children. Inasmuch as knowledge of the infection status of the mother is crucial for reduction in MTCT of HIV-1, continued antenatal screening is important even in a low-prevalence country such as Sweden.

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