HIV screening programme 'saves' 144 babies from disease

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An HIV screening programme for pregnant women has seen 144 babies born without the disease since 2006, Scotland's largest health board has reported.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) said drug treatment given in early pregnancy greatly reduces the chance of mothers passing on HIV to their babies.

About 98% of expectant mothers opt to take part in the screening programme.

Those found to be HIV positive receive regular monitoring and specialist support during their pregnancy.

'Positive support'

Val Patton, head HIV clinician at Glasgow's Brownlee Centre for Communicable Disease at Gartnavel General Hospital, said: "Over the last seven years we've managed to deliver 144 babies whose mothers have been diagnosed HIV positive but transfer to the babies has been avoided.

"This has been achieved through a combination of drugs which are tailored to each individual mum, continual monitoring and positive support from the team."

Emilia Crighton, public health medicine consultant at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said not everyone realised how important screening can be.

"The HIV antenatal screening programme is one of many that can save and improve the quality of lives, and 144 healthy babies proves that screening programmes can work," she said.

Both mother and baby are monitored after the birth and as breastfeeding is not recommended, mothers on low incomes are supported by a free formula milk scheme.

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