Reducing HIV Infection and Abandonment of Babies

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 172
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.172

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In 2002, the Russian government put the number of orphaned and abandoned children at 700,000. More than 50,000 children have been born to HIV-infected women in Russia (half during the past 3 years). Although women increasingly are becoming infected through sex, many are injecting drug users, and several studies have attempted to untangle how drug use influences both abandonment and the limited success of efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission. A study analyzing the factors that lead HIV-infected mothers in St. Petersburg to abandon their babies found that half of them abandoned their babies, a process that involves relinquishing the child to the state. But the data showed that abandonment wasn't related to injecting drugs: The only significant risk factor was an unintended pregnancy.