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Posted On: 18 December 2013 02:07 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Free HIV screening for all pregnant women soon

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Free HIV screening will soon be available at HMC’s Women’s Hospital for all Qatari and non-Qatari pregnant women willing to take the test, a seminar on Aids was told recently. Fifteen new cases of HIV/Aids were detected in Qatar last year, taking the total cases in the country to 276, an expert at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) disclosed at the seminar that marked World Aids Day. Speakers stressed the importance of HIV screening for pregnant women to prevent transmission of the disease to newborns. The event for doctors was organised by Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Infectious Disease Department in collaboration with SCH. “HIV transmission appears to be very limited in Qatar with a low HIV prevalence rate of 0.02 percent,” said Dr Al Mubasher Abu Baker from SCH. “A total of 276 HIV cases have been recorded in Qatar with 15 new cases last year,” he added. The national response to HIV screening supports World Health Organisation’s slogan “Treat More Treat Better.” Among other preventive measures SCH and HMC have jointly agreed upon is free HIV screening for pregnant women at the Women’s Hospital, said Abu Baker. Dr Hussam Al Soub, Senior Consultant for Infectious Disease at HMC, advised all pregnant women to undergo HIV screening “because the greater the percentage of women tested means the more are treated and fewer infected infants among the population. “If we have to target the infection strategically we have to target prevention at different stages of pregnancy; before delivery, during delivery, and post-delivery,” he added. HIV remains a major public health issue with about 35m people living with the infection globally and an additional 2.5m getting infected each year, the seminar was told. HIV is an infection which attacks the CD4 cells that protect the body from infection, eventually causing failure of the immune system. The infection is most commonly spread through blood in adults and through breast milk to newborns. Dr Arabo Ibrahim Bayo, Senior Consultant for Infectious Disease, recommended thorough counselling for patients and their families while Dr Said Al Dhariy, Senior Consultant Head of Virology Laboratory, HMC, shared insights on the routine antenatal screening performed at the laboratory.