News / Health

Drug Cocktail Cuts Mom-to-Baby HIV Transmission

A new combination therapy, designed to reduce mother-to-infant HIV transmission, is both inexpensive and has fewer complications, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health. A new combination therapy, designed to reduce mother-to-infant HIV transmission, is both inexpensive and has fewer complications, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.
x
A new combination therapy, designed to reduce mother-to-infant HIV transmission, is both inexpensive and has fewer complications, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.
A new combination therapy, designed to reduce mother-to-infant HIV transmission, is both inexpensive and has fewer complications, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.
Jessica Berman
Giving a combination of drugs to the newborns of HIV-positive women cuts the infants' risk of becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS in half, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Typically, HIV-positive women are given antiviral drugs during their pregnancy to reduce the risk of passing on their infections to their babies, either in the womb, during labor and delivery, or when they breast feed. Without that maternal drug treatment, between 25 and 50 percent of those newborns will become infected.

Investigators with the National Institutes of Health and an international network of hospitals and medical centers looked at three drug therapies aimed at reducing mother-to-child HIV transmissions.  

Researchers found that the standard antiviral drug zidovudine (AZT), combined with another drug called nevirapine, significantly reduce transmission of the AIDS virus to newborns compared to AZT alone. Nevarapine lowers the amount of virus in the blood.

NIH's Heather Watts, who co-authored the study, says the women in the trial did not know before labor and delivery that they were HIV-positive.

"In some cases they had a negative HIV test earlier in pregnancy and then were retested during labor and delivery and were found to be positive," Watts says, "or in some cases they knew they were positive but they hadn't come in for care, and then just showed up for delivery."

The study, which involved 1,600 infants, was conducted in the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and South Africa between 2004 and 2010.  The newborns received one of three antiviral treatments within 48 hours after birth.

One group got AZT for six weeks.  A second group received AZT plus nevirapine for that time. The third group of infants got a six-week regimen of AZT, plus 3TC, which is similar to AZT, and the protease inhibitor nelfinavir, which belongs to a different class of drugs.

Investigators found the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate among newborns who received AZT alone around the time of delivery was 4.8 percent. The three-drug cocktail cut the rate of mother-to-baby transmission in half, to 2.4 percent, shortly after birth. But Watts says that regimen caused a condition called neutropenia, a blood disorder which lowers levels of some infection-fighting white blood cells.

However, researchers found the two-drug combination of AZT and nevirapine given to infants shortly after birth reduced the risk of early transmission to 2.2 percent and did not cause neutropenia. Infants can later become infected with the AIDS virus if their mothers breast-feed them, rather than giving them formula.

Watts says the AZT-nevirapine 'cocktail' not only has fewer complications than the other anti-HIV therapies, but both drugs are also inexpensive.

"Actually, antiretroviral drugs have become increasingly available for treatment for pregnancy in low-resource settings.  So this is something that should be available."

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid