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Big Strides in Battle Against Pediatric AIDS

Advances help lower transmission rate in U.S., but it's a different story in developing nations

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"Unfortunately, we have a lot of patients who get diagnosed with their first prenatal blood draw," she said. "As soon as we can, we get them on antiretroviral therapy, which helps tremendously to keep the transmission rates down."

Depending on how well the medication reduces a woman's viral load, she may be able to give birth vaginally. If the viral load is too high, a cesarean birth is scheduled because that further reduces the chance of transmitting the virus.

"It's never too late," O'Reilly said. "Even if a woman had no prenatal care, there are ways we can try to prevent transmission of HIV."

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