News Update

‘Groundbreaking Achievement,’ Botswana Cuts HIV Transmission Rates to Children from 40% to 1%

HIV Transmission rates have fallen from 40% in 1999 to below 1% last year, which the WHO has hailed as a ‘groundbreaking achievement.’ Seven health districts recorded zero transmissions in 2021. Only a few babies now born in Selebi-Phikwe to women with the virus are HIV positive, with the help of a national campaign to stop mother-to-child transmissions in a country that once had the highest HIV prevalence rate worldwide.


While the number of pregnant women on ART has risen from 27% in 2002 to 98% last year, HIV testing among pregnant women has also increased across the country from 49% in 2002 to 98% in 2021. In December, Botswana also became the first high-burden country to receive the WHO’s silver tier award for its efforts to cut HIV child transmission rates.


Dr Kaite Mashini, a member of the district’s health team, said the achievement was all thanks to a community education programme – that included house calls to encourage pregnant women to register with local health authorities – for free HIV treatment and testing. “When a newborn baby tests HIV negative, we’re very much part of this victory against the virus. We celebrate the news with the mother and are celebrated by the community for our role,” Mashini said.