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Aids, HIV Test Free for Pregnant Women

A total of 10 pregnant women who were tested positive in AIDS and HIV examinations in Shenzhen have been forced to take effective measures to prevent the fatal disease from being passed onto their babies since this year.

They have been required to end their pregnancy, take preventative medicines, conduct Caesarean sections or have artificial feedings after they were detected to be AIDS patients and virus carriers.

Starting this year, Shenzhen provides free HIV/AIDS tests to all pregnant women in the special economic zone to help prevent AIDS from spreading in the southern Chinese metropolis.

With the introduction of free HIV/AIDS testing to pregnant women, no cases involving mothers infecting their babies during pregnant period have been reported in Shenzhen this year.

The measure will cover the whole province in the following years, said Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Health Director-General Yao Zhibin.

"All pregnant women will be offered free HIV/AIDS tests in the province in the future," he said.

To help fight AIDS, South China's Guangdong Province where AIDS is quickly spreading and is planning to establish special anti-AIDS work committee to focus on preventing and tackling the fatal disease.

The special committee, which consists of senior doctors and experts, will try to establish files for all AIDS patients and virus carriers provincewide.

Meanwhile, the special committee is expected to be officially established before the end of the year and it will seek more international partnerships and overseas financial support in fighting AIDS in the coming years, Yao said.

Guangdong Province will also expand investment in fighting AIDS in coming years, and import advanced equipment and technologies to help test and treat AIDS.

Yao promised to further improve his province's AIDS medical treatment standards and offer free medical treatment to the province's AIDS victims in rural settings next year.

Yao urged local residents to shun casual sex and be faithful to their spouses.

Casual sex has been attributed by health experts to be one of the major causes that has caused the rapid spread of AIDS in Guangdong Province, which has attracted a large number of prostitutes from around the country.

Other AIDS victims are typically either intravenous drug users or people who were infected with the fatal disease via blood transfusions with tainted blood.

Guangdong's confirmed number of AIDS patients climbed over 5,000 by the end of last year.

But Yao estimated that 30,000 unconfirmed AIDS and HIV carriers existed provincewide.

With Guangdong's opening drive continuing, the province's number of AIDS patients and HIV carriers will continue to grow in the future, becoming a serious threat.

Guangdong has now become the fourth-largest province in terms of numbers of AIDS patients and virus carriers in China.

Yunnan Province in Southwest China is the worst HIV/AIDS-hit region. It is followed by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

(China Daily March 26, 2004)

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