Pregnant women encouraged to test for HIV

The Ministry of Health has launched a Month of Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, calling on pregnant women to take HIV tests for their babies’ health.

Addressing a launching ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City o­n June 2, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, also Chair of the National Committee for AIDS, Drug and Prostitution Control, admitted that the number of HIV-infected women, especially those with pregnancy, is o­n a rise.

“It’s very important to help pregnant mothers access early diagnosis and take timely intervention measures in order to mitigate perinatal HIV transmission,” Trong pointed out.

Deputy Minister of Health Trinh Quan Huan said during the month from June 1-30, services are available in 225 sites across the country, where pregnant women will be provided with voluntary HIV tests, antiretroviral drugs to prevent perinatal transmission and powder milk for babies born to HIV-infected mothers.

An estimated 6,000 pregnant women catch HIV annually in Vietnam, of whom 35% are likely to transmit the virus to their newborns unless no appropriate interventions are taken, according to a recent survey.

If HIV-infected pregnant women take timely interventions the perinatal transmission rate will reduce to just five %, thus saving over 1,600 newborns from the risks.

However, most of HIV-infected mothers in Vietnam have got late diagnosis, mostly at the delivery stage, causing difficulty for health workers to give consultation and provide treatment against the transmission of the virus from mothers to children.