Newborns to benefit from HIV drug
July 14, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Though fewer babies in the United States are being born infected with HIV due to preventive measures, government statistics show that at least 15 percent of HIV- positive women still receive no prenatal care.
So Wednesday's news from American and Ugandan researchers that the simple-to-use, low-cost drug nevirapine can prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission could save the lives not only of babies in developing countries but those in the United States as well.
"Our options have been limited, but we're excited about trying to apply sort of a new technology," says Dr. Michael Lindsay of Grady Health System in Atlanta, where one in five pregnant HIV-positive women have received no prenatal care.
"There's a rapid HIV test that's coming on the market, and if we're able to apply this to women who receive no prenatal care, then theoretically we could know whether they're infected prior to delivery," he says.
In the United States, the risk of a pregnant woman with HIV passing the infection to her baby has dropped in recent years from one in four to one in 20. Much of the decrease has been due to treatment of mothers with the drug AZT over several weeks during their pregnancy.
In addition to being less expensive that AZT, nevirapine is also much simpler to administer. It is given in two doses, one to the mother at delivery and the other to the baby within three days of birth. So it can even help women whose first contact with the medical system comes when they arrive at the hospital door to give birth.
U.S. public health officials now recommend that HIV-testing be offered to all pregnant women so that they can undergo preventive measures if they are HIV-positive.
Affordable drug reduces mother-to-child HIV transmission, study says
Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.
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