ART therapy for babies, mothers safely reduces HIV transmission

Jul 22, 2009

Giving daily antiretroviral syrup to breastfeeding infants or treating their HIV-infected mothers with highly active antiretroviral drugs is safe and effective in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission through breast milk, a study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill investigators has found.

"This is an exciting development," said Charles van der Horst, M.D., a professor in the UNC School of Medicine and the study's lead investigator. "We may be able to spare mothers in the developing world a horrible choice by offering them an effective method for preventing transmission of HIV during breastfeeding."

These findings, from investigators at UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Project-Malawi in Lilongwe, Malawi and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were presented July 22 at the 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Cape Town, South Africa.

Approximately 420,000 infants are infected with HIV annually, half through breast milk. HIV-infected women in resource-constrained areas face a terrible dilemma: provide the many health and nutritional benefits of breast milk but face a 20 percent chance of transmitting the virus to their baby or choose costly formula, which relies on an unsafe water supply and carries a higher risk of morbidity and mortality, and avoid transmitting HIV.

The Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals and Nutrition (BAN) study is the only large-scale, randomized trial comparing infant prophylaxis or maternal treatment to an enhanced standard-of-care arm in the prevention of HIV transmission through . The study was conducted in Lilongwe, Malawi at a single site. Investigators randomly assigned at total of 2,367 mother-infant pairs to one of three treatment arms. For both the interventions, the probability of was significantly lower than in the enhanced control arm.

Of the randomized infants, 4.9 percent were found to be HIV positive at birth. Among infants who were HIV-free at one week old, 6.4 percent on the enhanced control arm were infected by 28 weeks, compared to 3.0 percent of the infants on the maternal treatment arm and 1.8 percent of the infants who received daily nevirapine syrup. Upon examining the probability of HIV infection or death by 28 weeks postpartum, 7.6 percent of the infants on the enhanced control arm were HIV-infected or died compared to 4.7 percent of the infants on the maternal treatment arm, and 2.9 percent of the on the infant prophylaxis arm.

The BAN study results give global and national policy makers the choice of which intervention (maternal or infant antiretroviral intervention) to implement based on the conditions and resources in their particular setting. "We hope to see these results translated quickly into program and policy.

Source: University of North Carolina School of Medicine (news : web)

Explore further: Animal study provides first evidence that gel can prevent multiple virus transmission in vagina/rectum

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Breastfeeding now safer for infants of HIV-infected mothers

Feb 04, 2008

An antiretroviral drug already in widespread use in the developing world to prevent the transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their newborns during childbirth has also been found to substantially cut the risk of subsequent ...

Infant formula blocks HIV transmission via breastfeeding

Jul 03, 2008

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a global epidemic threatening the lives of millions of people. Because there is no known cure, prevention of the transmission of the virus that causes AIDS, the Human Immunodeficiency ...

Recommended for you

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

Apr 16, 2014

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...