News / Health

Scientists Reaffirm Therapies' Effectiveness in Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

David Dyar

According to the findings of two new studies, mother-to-child transmission of HIV during breastfeeding could be virtually eliminated through the timely use of anti-retroviral drugs.  

The studies, one conducted in Botswana and the other in Malawi, compared the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drug regimens given to HIV-infected mothers to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus to their uninfected newborns.

In the Botswana study, researchers wanted to see if one commonly-used drug cocktail was superior to another in preventing mother-to-infant HIV transmission in 560 infected women.

"And what we found is that when we started any of the regimens during pregnancy, during the third trimester of pregnancy, and continued them through six months of breast feeding, we had extremely low rates of mother-to-child transmission (of HIV)," said the author of the study, Roger Shapiro with Harvard University's School of Public Health in Boston.

Shapiro and colleagues found that with no drug protection, there's a 40 percent chance that an infected, breastfeeding mother will transmit the AIDS virus to her baby.  With the drugs, the overall infection rate fell to 1.1 percent.

An international team led by Charles van der Horst of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine looked to see which treatment regimen gave newborns better protection - suppressing their mothers' HIV infections by giving the women the anti-retroviral drugs while pregnant or administering a drug syrup called nevirapine directly to the babies.

Based on a study of more than 2,300 breastfeeding women in Malawi, researchers say both strategies were very effective in shielding newborns from infection.

Research leader van der Horst says the study also found that treating newborns directly with the sweet syrup may turn out to be the better strategy. He also says only two percent of infants in the study became infected with HIV through their mothers' breast milk.

"People will see how easy it is to give the infants the daily dose of nevirapine.  And since we decreased transmission to such low levels, I think instead of 200-thousand babies getting infected every year, it will be down to less than a hundred babies," he said.

In many poor countries, especially in Africa, HIV-positive women face a painfuldilemma in deciding whether to breastfeed, according to Lynne Mofenson of the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

If they nurse, Mofenson says, they risk infecting their babies with HIV.   Not breastfeeding exposes the newborns to illnesses from the often unclean tap water used to mix formula.

Regardless of which drug regimen is used, Mofenson says what's needed is a more aggressive strategy to reach, test and treat HIV-infected pregnant women. "Almost all of infant infections and maternal deaths occur in that group of women who have symptoms," he said.

Lynne Mofenson's comments on mother-to-child HIV transmission, and the results of the two African drug trials, are published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs