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December 1, 2012

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Infected mother lives to tell story of courage, hope

XIAO Xue's story is one of courage and hope.

Xiao (not her real name) became the first woman in Shangahi to deliver a healthy baby boy in 2005 after receiving a mother-to-infant intervention therapy.

It was only when she came to abort a second child did she find out that she was carrying the HIV virus.

The mother-to-infant intervention therapy is designed to prevent HIV infections from an infected mother to the newborn through a series of antiretroviral drugs and medication. Mothers are advised against breastfeeding after delivery. The therapy is deemed a success if the infant tests negative to the HIV virus until he or she is 18 months old.

Xiao, who has been carrying the HIV virus for 17 years now, and her husband Liu Jie, also a pseudonym, shared their story of struggle and survival with the Oriental Morning Post yesterday.

Xiao said she was infected with the virus when she received blood transfusion in her hometown away from Shanghai while delivering her first child, a daughter, 17 years ago. She only found out that she was carrying the virus when she went to terminate an unexpected pregnancy.

Doctors suggested she undergo intervention therapy and later delivered a HIV-free healthy boy.

But Liu was not so lucky and found out that he was infected during a follow-up check in 2005 which developed into full-blown AIDS the next year.

"It is a miracle that we survived over 10 years with HIV, and I hope that we can have another 10 years to see our children grow," Xiao said. "My husband is seriously sick but he never loses hope and still works very hard to support the family. We will support each other and take care of our children, whose smile is our only source of strength and hope."

According to Xiao, she and her husband were living in hell when they learnt about the infection. It was only one year later that they "returned to life."

"I do not want to recall the past but want to cherish the time spent with my family and live a good life," said Xiao.

With their daughter now in the teens, the couple told her about their infection last year, who reportedly took it well.


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