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HIV Pregnant Women to Be Treated Free in Guangzhou

HIV-infected pregnant women in Guangzhou are expected to receive free medication in a government move to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, Shenzhen Daily reported Friday.

Some 20 cases of HIV-infected pregnant women and four cases of mother-child transmission have been confirmed in Guangzhou, a work conference on the city's AIDS prevention and control was told last week.

The first case of a HIV-infected pregnant woman in the city was reported in 1998 and the first case of mother-child transmission was found in 2003.

Among the 20 infected pregnant women, six had given birth successfully without transmission to their children, another six had their pregnancies terminated and the remaining eight had given birth without knowing they were infected.

Transmission from infected mother to child mainly takes place in the womb, during labor or through breastfeeding.

Without any preventive measures, the transmission rate could reach 15 to 50 percent according to experts.

Some effective prevention measures include taking medication before giving birth, Caesarean section birth and breast-feeding.

A survey conducted by the Guangdong Federation of Women showed that more than 60 percent of female HIV carriers were infected by their husbands. Women are physically 2-4 times more prone to infection than men, says Long Qiuxia, director of the Guangdong Province Red Cross Society.

To avoid infection, husbands and wives should have medical examinations before they marry or before engaging in sexual activity. Condoms are also recommended to prevent sexual transmission of HIV.

(Shenzhen Daily December 4, 2004)

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