Abbott, The Abbott Fund And Direct Relief International Reach Key HIV Testing Milestones: 20 Million Tests Provided Over 10 Years, And More Than 150,000 HIV Cases Prevented In Children
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. and ABBOTT PARK, Ill., June 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Direct Relief International, the global health care company Abbott (NYSE: ABT) and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, today announced that they have reached a major milestone of distributing 20 million rapid HIV tests free of charge to HIV testing and counseling programs serving pregnant women and their families in 43 developing countries. Expanding HIV testing for pregnant women is an essential component in helping to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, a key focus in the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS.
To facilitate access to HIV testing for PMTCT, Abbott and the Abbott Fund made a commitment in 2002 to donate 20 million rapid HIV tests to programs in Africa and the world's Least Developed Countries. To date, more than 150 partner organizations have participated in the program, serving more than 8,000 health facilities. HIV-positive mothers identified through the program can receive free and convenient therapy to help prevent their child from being infected with HIV. As a result, a minimum of 150,000 new cases of HIV have been averted in infants over the past ten years.*
"Helping pregnant mothers to know their HIV status is a critical step in advancing access to treatment and preventing the transmission of HIV to children," said Katherine Pickus, divisional vice president of Global Citizenship & Policy, Abbott, and vice president, the Abbott Fund. "By donating 20 million rapid HIV tests, we have helped thousands of children to be born without HIV. We are grateful to Direct Relief International and the local-country implementing partners for their work in helping us to reach so many mothers and families across the developing world."
"People who are poor or living in rural areas should have equal access to the benefits of HIV prevention and treatment as those who have the financial means or live in urban areas. Direct Relief is committed to increasing access to HIV testing, prevention, care, and treatment for people across the world," said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief.Every day, approximately 1,000 children worldwide acquire HIV—over 90 percent are infected through mother-to-child transmission. Rapid HIV tests allow any program in a remote setting to share test results in 15 minutes, regardless of access to lab equipment or electricity. By ensuring pregnant women know their HIV status and enrolling those that are HIV positive in appropriate care and treatment, the HIV transmission rate from mother to child can be reduced to less than 5 percent, according to UNAIDS.
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