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Free Care for Pregnant Women with HIV
Global Times
by Liu Xin
June 17, 2015

Plan hopes to reduce transmission infection rate to under 5% by 2020

China has pledged to offer free screening and treatment for HIV/AIDS and two other kinds of infectious diseases to pregnant women to control their transmission from mother to fetus."We decided to carry out a plan to prevent the transmission of AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis-B from mother to fetus by offering free screening services and comprehensive intervention treatment," according to a 2015 work plan announced by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The plan said that HIV-positive pregnant women would receive free anti-virus treatment at qualified medical and health institutes.

Medical and health organizations should provide confidential but quality antenatal and birth care to infected pregnant women, and encourage natural birth instead of through a cesarean section, read the plan.

"Proper medical treatment during pregnancy is important if an infected woman wants to have natural birth. After giving birth, both the mother and child still need to take prescription medication to reduce the transmission rate," Shao Yiming, an AIDS expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times.

Medical and health organizations should instruct the mothers to avoid breast-feeding and provide early tests for the HIV virus and anti-bodies as well as free anti-viral treatment to the newborn, the plan added.

The plan likewise encourages medical and health organizations at different levels to provide HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis-B education and offer professional consultations.

An increasing number of fertile women in China have been infected with HIV/AIDS and syphilis mainly through sexual transmission, which poses a serious challenge to preventing mother-to-fetus transmission, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said.

Meanwhile, the mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV/AIDS has slowly been dropping, while the congenital syphilis rate has remained at a high level in recent years due to the inadequate management of a floating population, delayed virus testing for pregnant women and limited prevention methods, according to the commission.

The work plan vows to expand prevention work to all cities and counties in China by the end of 2015, reduce the rate of mother-to-fetus transmission of HIV/AIDS to below 5 percent by 2020 and reduce the rate of babies born with syphilis to below 15 out of 100,000 live babies by the end of 2020.

Offering comprehensive intervention treatment to infected pregnant women and their children could minimize the transmission rate from mother to fetus and improve their health and quality of life, the plan explained.

Preventing the transmission of the diseases from mother to fetus is important to reduce the death rate of pregnant women and children under 5 years old and increase the population quality at birth, the commission said.

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