Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Source-Elena Ghanotakis.  Description-Mother and baby at clinic in Rwanda.

The past decade has witnessed tremendous global progress in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT), the leading cause of HIV infection in children. Effective interventions exist to virtually eliminate MTCT during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding (UNICEF 2016). Yet, MTCT remains a challenge; the majority of the estimated 150,000 new HIV infections in children in 2015 were from MTCT (UNAIDS 2016).

This course presents an overview of a comprehensive approach to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programming and essential interventions administered though the continuum of care—antenatal, intrapartum, post-partum, and infant care services. This course also explores key PMTCT-related issues and programming considerations.


  • Explain key aspects of the global HIV epidemic related to MTCT
  • Describe the four prongs of a comprehensive strategy for PMTCT
  • Define modes, timing, and risk factors associated with MTCT
  • Discuss key services associated with HIV prevention and prevention of unintended pregnancies in women living with HIV
  • Describe the cascade of PMTCT interventions through the continuum of care: antenatal, intrapartum, postpartum, and infant care services
  • Identify major PMTCT programming considerations


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Special thanks to Barbara Deller, ACCESS and ACCESS-FP, who authored the first edition of this course (published November 4, 2007).

The course author would also like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to the course revision: Alex Vrazo, David Sullivan, and Margaret D'Adamo from USAID; Lynne Mofenson, M.D. from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.