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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 08:32, November 09, 2004
China enhances efforts to prevent mother-to-child AIDS transmission
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Chinese health authorities have pledged to do more to prevent babies being infected by their mothers with the HIV virus during delivery.

The Ministry of Health has issued guidelines on preventing mother-to-baby transmission.

Pilot work will start in 127 counties to provide comprehensive care to people undergoing HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

More and more women with HIV/AIDS have been found to be transmitting the deadly virus to their children during pregnancy, giving birth and breast-feeding.

Of all HIV/AIDS sufferers, 0.6 per cent are babies who have caught the disease from their mothers, say statistics collected from 194 surveillance sites around China.

There are thought to be about 840,000 sufferers nationwide.

Worldwide, from 2.4 million HIV/AIDS women giving birth, 800,000 children are born with the virus.

Without effective prevention measures, the rate of transmission is about 15 to 50 per cent.

The guidelines give details of what local governments and doctors should do to improve infection prevention during the child-bearing process.

Over the next two years, better public education and work in health care should be carried out in sample regions so 90 per cent of women there can be tested for the virus before they get married and have children, the guideline noted.

The test will only be voluntary as former obligatory pre-marital testing has stopped as of October 1, said Hao Yang, a division director of HIV/AIDS control of the ministry.

He said couples were now refusing to take the test even though it was free.

Measures to be taken to try and prevent pregnant women with HIV/AIDS from transmitting the virus to their children include special drugs during pregnancy and education about things like the dangers of breast-feeding.The Ministry aims to give 90 per cent of these children free anti-AIDS drugs freely in the following two years.

All test results are confidential, the guideline says.

In China, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, West China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Central China's Henan Province and some other regions are seeing a rapid increase of cases where babies are infected by their mothers.

Education is another vital task in a country where many people are still ignorant about the disease, Hao said.

Henan Province has carried out an investigation into the people involved in the blood transfusion crisis of the early 1990s, when people selling their blood caught the disease.

Authorities in the province have now checked 280,000 donors and found 25,000 of them came down with the virus.

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