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New hope on AIDS in corner of ravaged Africa

New hope on AIDS in corner of ravaged Africa


                                    New hope on AIDS in corner of ravaged Africa

 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - In a sign of hope on a continent ravaged by AIDS, a South African fertility clinic has started a service allowing couples infected with the virus to have a healthy baby.

The Cape Fertility Clinic is the first in Africa to open a laboratory for HIV-positive patients, enabling them to conceive and give birth to HIV-negative babies by using procedures such as in-vitro fertilization.

"HIV is no longer seen as a death sentence but a chronic disease," says Klaus Wiswedel, one of the clinic"s directors. "And people with chronic diseases are entitled to have fertility treatment. We can safely deliver an HIV negative child and, with the right treatment, the parent can live a long life."

About five or six couples, with either one or both partners carrying the AIDS virus, visit the clinic every month. It is only for the favored few with enough money to pay for fertility treatment and is a drop in the ocean compared to the huge numbers of infected people.

But it is a small symbol that, after years of despair, Africa is making progress in protecting unborn child from AIDS — and in prolonging the life of the parents.

About 2 million people are receiving lifesaving antiretroviral medicines in Africa, which bears the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, up from 100,000 in 2003.

This has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the number of pregnant women receiving drugs to stop them from passing the HIV virus to their children. According to a U.N. report on "Children and AIDS" published for World AIDS Day, the number of pregnant women getting therapy in low and middle income countries has tripled in the past three years.








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