London, May 7 : Appropriate treatment can slash the risk of HIV being passed on from mother to child, says a new study.
The study, which emphasises, the need for appropriate treatment for expectant women, says that preventive steps can lower infant infection rates dramatically.
The Aids Online study was based on an analysis of data of 5,151 HIV pregnancies in the UK and Ireland between 2000 and 2006, and was led by researchers at University College London.
Lead researcher Claire Townsend said that the findings were "greatly encouraging" for women with access to drugs,
"They demonstrate that if women are tested for HIV early enough in pregnancy for ART to be initiated, the risk of infection to their baby is very low indeed," the BBC quoted her, as saying.
"This emphasizes the importance of achieving and maintaining a high uptake of antenatal HIV testing on a national scale."
According to the data, an infant infection rate of just 1.2pc was reported where preventative steps were taken. This was in comparison to 20pc infection rate in the mid-1990s when effective drug therapy was not available.
Preventive steps include taking a combination of antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs during pregnancy, a caesarean section delivery and antenatal testing for HIV.
The data collected showed that the transmission rates for women on ART for at least the last 14 days of pregnancy were 0.8pc - regardless of the type of delivery.
This is in part due to the fact that in many cases the drugs are so effective that a normal delivery is possible.
Lisa Power, of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "With the right treatment and relevant support, the vast majority of women living with HIV can have healthy uninfected children.