Campaign targets passage of HIV from mother to child

HA NOI — The Ministry of Health yesterday launched a campaign on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission in an effort to ease the increasing impact of the disease in Viet Nam.

Speaking at the launch ceremony held in Ha Noi, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong called for all of society, especially women, to take part in the campaign o­n preventing children from getting HIV from their mothers.

Trong also called o­n international groups and non-governmental organisations to help Viet Nam gradually limit the spread of HIV/AIDS, with the goal of halting HIV/AIDS transmission by 2015 and ensuring all HIV infected pregnant mothers have access to services that protect their babies from the disease.

The month-long campaign aims to mobilise the whole nation to join in HIV prevention activities. Activities will focus o­n improving awareness of pregnant women and society at large o­n HIV prevention for children. There will also be a focus o­n strengthening medical prevention services in order to reduce the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission in Viet Nam.

Health authorities have also urged all pregnant women, especially high-risk women, to go to medical units for consultation and tests to ensure they receive proper preventive treatment.

Deputy Minister of Health Trinh Quan Huan said many poor pregnant women did not have adequate access to medical services that prevented HIV transmission from mother to child. This was largely due to a lack of knowledge and information about the issue, Huan said.

Health ministry statistics put the HIV infection rate among pregnant women at 0.25 per cent in 2008. Prevention services in this area haven’t been provided widely and discrimination against HIV carriers also prevents HIV infected pregnant women from seeking help at medical centres.

"Many pregnant women find out that they are HIV positive when it’s too late," said Huan. "Some o­nly find out when they begin to go through labour, raising challenges for health workers in providing consultation and preventive treatment services.

"Good prevention could reduce the rate of mother-to-child HIV infection from 35 per cent to 5 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation."