Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

HIV-positive women urged to avoid pregnancy

TOUGH TALKING The CDC said that there had been an increase in the number of women diagnosed as HIV-positive, 75 percent of whom were addicted to drugs

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday urged women diagnosed as HIV-positive to avoid getting pregnant.

CDC Deputy Director-General Lin Ting (林頂) said there had been a sharp increase in the number of female HIV positive cases, most of whom were infected through intravenous drug use.

Lin said although newborns can be protected from HIV infection through early treatment with medication and using breast milk substitute, the center would still like to urge women who are HIV-positive to avoid pregnancy.

The center took a female drug addict as an example, who was not found to be infected with HIV until her fifth pregnancy. Before the diagnosis, she had given birth to four children, none of whom were found to be HIV-positive.

She is currently imprisoned and pregnant with her sixth child.

He added that many female cases were diagnosed through prison screening and that prisons can help them organize an abortion if they choose, according to the Genetic Health Law (優生保健法).

The fees for the abortion and, if requested, sterilization would both be covered by HIV screening and treatment subsidy, Lin said.

Doctors should tell patients with HIV about their infection and encourage them to receive medication, he said, adding that doctors can also suggest that patients be sterilized, according to the Genetic Health Law.

According to the CDC, there were 12,594 people infected with HIV as of last month, 9 percent of whom were women.

About 75 percent of these women are drug addicts, the center said, adding that 98 percent of them are of child-bearing age.

In related news, the CDC yesterday also urged police to send sexual assault victims to HIV-screening appointed hospitals to go through HIV examinations.

Lin said victims may have a better chance to avoid infection if they receive medication within 72 hours of an assault.

The offender, if previously diagnosed as HIV-positive, would also be brought to justice, he said.

The CDC received a report recently, in which a woman was sexually assaulted at a cyber cafe by a man diagnosed as HIV-positive. Fortunately the victim received medication immediately and was not infected.

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