Chinese Delegation in United States To Learn About HIV/AIDS Efforts, Especially Among Pregnant Women, Children
A 12-member Chinese delegation of national and provincial child welfare advocates and social workers is touring the United States to learn how people are fighting HIV/AIDS, especially among pregnant women and children, the AP/Kansas City Star reports. In some areas of China, nearly 5% of pregnant women are HIV-positive, and health officials are encouraging pregnant women to be tested for the disease, according to the AP/Star (Salter, AP/Kansas City Star, 1/10). HIV-positive women can transmit the virus to a fetus during pregnancy or birth or to an infant through breastfeeding. Without antiretroviral drug treatment, about 25% of infants born to HIV-positive women contract the disease from their mothers. However, the risk of vertical HIV transmission can be reduced to about 8% if antiretroviral drugs are administered to the woman during labor and delivery and the infant immediately after birth. The Chinese Ministry of Health in November issued guidelines for the prevention of vertical HIV transmission and plans to offer examinations at no cost to HIV-positive pregnant women. In addition, the government urged medical institutions to provide antiretroviral therapy at no cost to HIV-positive pregnant women and their infants (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/10/04). The delegation visited St. Louis on Monday and also plans to visit Boise, Idaho; Denver; Eugene, Ore.; New York; and Washington, D.C., according to the AP/Star. "There is a trend (in China) that AIDS is spreading," Yan QingChun, China's deputy director general of social welfare and social affairs -- who is traveling with the delegation -- said, adding, "The government is paying much attention to this and trying to find a way to help the families and children infected by AIDS." Yan also said he hopes to return to China with ideas on how to handle the social and emotional toll of the HIV/AIDS epidemic there. UNAIDS estimates that about 840,000 HIV-positive people live in China, but some experts believe that China might have as many as 10 million HIV cases by 2010 if "urgent" action is not taken to prevent the spread of the virus, according to the AP/Star (AP/Kansas City Star, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.