News / Health

Limited HIV Therapy Beneficial for Infants Immediately After Diagnosis

A HIV-positive girl is seen lying in a bed at the pediatric hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 2010.
A HIV-positive girl is seen lying in a bed at the pediatric hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 2010.
Jessica Berman
Researchers have found that giving antiviral therapy for a limited time to HIV-infected babies soon after diagnosis prevents damage to their immune systems and delays the need for long-term drug therapy.

The South African study, which enrolled 377 HIV-positive infants between six and 12 weeks of age, divided the babies into three groups. Beginning at age seven weeks, one group received antiviral drugs, or ART, and stopped close to their first birthday. The second group of infants receiving ART stopped around the age of two.

Both groups were compared to a third group of young children who were not treated with ART until they began showing symptoms of HIV infection, such as a failure to develop, or when the levels of their immune system CD4 cells became too low.

Mark Cotton, a pediatrician at Stellenbosch University near Cape Town and a study co-author, said in a Skype interview that infants given the shorter, intermediate course of ART - until age one - did not need to restart therapy for about eight months. Those who were on the longer treatment course until age 2 did not need to resume ART for almost a year-and-a-half after temporarily discontinuing therapy.

“Despite stopping therapy, we showed that there was very little morbidity in the children off of therapy, as long as you watched the children and started them at the very first warning sign,” said Cotton.

But the children who were not treated immediately after diagnosis needed to begin lifelong treatment 20 weeks after.

Cotton said delaying lifelong treatment with anti-HIV drugs limits toxic side effects.

Researchers also believe starting ART immediately after diagnosis, driving the AIDS virus to virtually undetectable levels, allows the infants' immune systems to fight off other infections, which Cotton said are more life-threatening in the short term.

“Some of the sicknesses that young babies get, such as diarrhea for example, is much more dangerous in a young infant than in an older child. So protecting them while they are most vulnerable, we are doing the best,” he said.

The World Health Organization began recommending immediate antiviral drug therapy for HIV-infected infants after Cotton’s group reported that early treatment reduced disease progression and death in young children by 75 percent.

An article on the benefits of early AIDS treatment in infants by Cotton and colleagues is published in the journal The Lancet.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid