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A Piece of My Mind
July 14, 2004

Baby Mo

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(2):153-154. doi:10.1001/jama.292.2.153

She seemed to weigh no more than a feather, and her eyes seemed to probe deep into the soul of whoever held her. Her mother had given her the name Mo, which in Vietnamese means "Dream," but her mother was nowhere to be found. At the age of 2 months, Baby Mo was to be adopted from an orphanage on the outskirts of Hanoi by a young couple from the United States. Tears of joy suddenly became tears of sorrow, however, when Baby Mo's HIV test came back positive, despite earlier assurance by the maternity hospital that all mothers had had mandatory screening for HIV at the time of delivery and that Baby Mo's mother's test was not among the positive results. Where and why this "error" happened we probably will never find out. But all dreams of a happy life for this beautiful infant suddenly ended, since the adoption process could no longer go through. Where did "the system" break down for this child? For how many more infants will the window of opportunity for the prevention of HIV perinatal transmission be missed?