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Myanmar launches U.N.-sponsored program to prevent mother-to-child HIV-AIDS transmission

Associated Press, 17 May 2005

Yangon: The United Nations and the Myanmar government have launched a program to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV-AIDS, UNICEF said Tuesday.

The program began Monday at Myanmar's 10 largest hospitals and will gradually be extended throughout the country to make prevention and treatment more widely available to mothers and their newborn children, the U.N. children's agency said.

The number of infections by HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - keeps rising in Myanmar. At least 10,000 HIV-positive women become pregnant every year, giving birth to at least 3,000 to 4,000 children with HIV, UNICEF representative Carroll Long said in a statement.

Myanmar's government says more than 300,000 of the country's 54 million people have HIV-AIDS, but health experts believe the actual figure is higher.

UNAIDS, the U.N. body coordinating the fight against the disease, estimates that more than 600,000 people in Myanmar aged 15 to 49 are infected with HIV.

UNICEF spends an average of US$2 million ([euro]1.6 million) each year to support HIV-AIDS prevention and care programs in Myanmar, the statement said.



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