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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora