AIDS programs reduce mother-to-fetus transmission

Xinhua, September 10, 2011

AIDS intervention programs have reduced HIV transmission from pregnant women to their unborn fetuses, said a senior health official on Friday.

In the areas covered by the programs, 7.9 percent of HIV-positive mothers transmitted the virus to their babies, down 33 percent prior to the programs being initiated in 2003, said Fu Wei, a senior official with the Ministry of Health, at a press conference.

China started a pilot program of providing free HIV tests and follow-up health counselling for pregnant women in 2003 in eight counties of five provinces and expanded it to 1,156 counties in 31 provincial divisions in 2010, Fu said.

The ministry launched the programs in wake of a rapid increase of HIV-positive females, he said.

As of June, a total of 17,202 pregnant women were diagnosed as HIV positive, he said.

In 2010, the country added free syphilis and hepatitis B testing in the intervention programs.

In 2010, about 839 million yuan (129 million U.S. dollars) from the central budget was spent in the programs that covered 6.4 million pregnant women, accounting for about 44 percent of the total expectant mothers in China.