HIV and AIDS

Japan prides itself on its mother-to-child HIV and AIDS prevention policy. However, although pregnant women are tested for HIV and AIDS during medical checkups in the early period of their pregnancy, those who test positive can then be examined only at one of the 71 (as of March 31, 2008) AIDS Core Hospitals, though only some of these have obstetricians. Further, in some cases, women who have tested positive take second and third tests at an AIDS Core Hospital and are later told that the initial test result was wrong. Medical practitioners seem to lack the imagination to understand the distress pregnant women are bound to feel when informed of infection, and they need training in counseling methods. Many of the women who find themselves in this situation are hesitant to reveal it to their husband/partner, parents, or anybody else, and suffer in excruciating loneliness. In contrast, there is no requirement for husbands/partners to be tested. It seems as though there is a tacit belief in medical circles and the health administration that the foremost obligation of a mother is to give birth to a healthy baby; women who get pregnant knowing that they are HIV-positive are assumed to be evil and not to care about their responsibility to their children.

 
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