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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    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 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.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora