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Last year it was cause for celebration The cause of celebration was for the results thatseveral clinical trials of zidovudine cut the risk for mother to child transmission ofhuman immune deficiency virus HIV by two thirds Although this year it is the basisfor new federal recommendations that all pregnant women should receive HIV testing andcounseling But these findings have been cause of protests by several activist groupsActivists fear that conservative legislators and policy makers will use the clinical datato justify mandatory testing and treatment for pregnant womenDuring the latter part of February the United States Public Health Services publishedguidelines for HIV pregnant women in the Federal Register Which coincidentally waspublished on the same day as the National Conference in Washington DC for HIVinfection in women Setting a New Agenda The conference included activistsphysicians and HIV positive women who used the meeting as a forum to voice their concernsabout how best to balance womens own medical needs with those of their infantsOther concerns of activists that were voiced were that they dont want laws policiesor medical care imposed on women merely as vectors who may transmit HIV totheir infants The new guidelines recommend that all pregnant women should receive HIV counseling andtesting These guidelines are aimed at helping pregnant women know their HIV status earlyso that medical care including zidovudine Retrovir known as AZT Burroughs Welcome CoResearch Triangle Park NC can be made available The new guidelines also reiterateprevious federal health advisories that say counseling should precede HIV testing Physicians and other health professionals who counsel women should be well informed aboutthe complex issues that face HIV infected pregnant women according to the guidelinesThis information should include about all of their reproductive options Women should alsobe advised that in order to help reduce prenatal HIV transmissions HIV infected women inthe United States should not breast feed their infantsThe guidelines further states that all HIV testing should be voluntary for women and theirinfants Also all decisions
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