Prevention of mother-to-child HIV infection: Accelerating the Elimination of Pediatric HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe

In partnership with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Big Win Philanthropy previously supported this program which dramatically reduced Zimbabwe’s mother-to-child HIV transmission rates from 30% in 2010 to less than 7% in 2014, and an estimated 5% in 2015.

30% mother-to-child transmission rate in 2010, falling to…
7% in 2014 and…
5% estimated for 2015
37,000 new infant infections prevented
13,000 children’s lives saved

The Need

In 2010, Zimbabwe was facing one of the highest burdens of new HIV infections in the world, and the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate was at a devastating 30%.

The Investment

In 2010, in partnership with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Big Win Philanthropy’s Chair Jamie Cooper (then CEO of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) oversaw development of a US $45 million grant to reduce HIV infections among newborns across the country. The goal of the five year program was to reduce the transmission rate from an estimated 30% to less than 12%.

The Impact

By December 2014, the mother-to-child transmission rate had fallen from 30% to just 6.7%. Following continued support from Big Win Philanthropy through to 2016, the data for 2015 is expected to show that the country has virtually eliminated mother-to-child transmission (elimination being defined as a rate of 5% or less). This change over the five years of the program is shown in the chart below:


Mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe close to elimination
Data independenty assessed by: Spectrum (2009), Harvard (2011), UC Berkeley (2012, 2014)

At a global level, Jamie Cooper was a powerful advocate for a change of treatment protocols for mothers – from the older Nevarapine to anti-retroviral drugs which are far more effective in preventing transmission and keeping mothers alive. The impressive results from the use of anti-retrovirals in the Zimbabwe program led the World Health Organisation to change its treatment guidance, which in turn had a major effect around the world on efforts to stop mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.