In 1993, HIV infected babies worldwide totalled one million, and more than half of these already had AIDS. In Central America and the Caribbean, there have been marked increases in infection rates among women of childbearing age, resulting in corresponding rise in perinatal transmission. In 1991, 10,000 children in Latin America had been born with HIV infection. In some African countries, as many as one third of all cases occur in the very young. In some parts of Africa, 25% of urban women of reproductive age are infected with HIV, meaning that approximately one in every ten urban children is being born with the AIDS virus. WHO predicts that infant and child deaths from AIDS may increase child mortality rates by as much as 50% in much of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s. In many countries this would wipe out the gains in child survival achieved over the previous two decades.
In 1999, an estimated 570 000 children aged 14 or younger became infected with HIV. Over 90% were babies born to HIV-positive women, who acquired the virus at birth or through their mother's breastmilk. Of these, almost nine-tenths were in sub-Saharan Africa.