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AIDS: Interventions Help Halt Breast Milk HIV Transmission

African study shows effectiveness of daily infant nevirapine syrup or maternal HAART

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- The transmission of HIV through breast milk can be significantly reduced by giving antiretroviral syrup to infants or treating infected mothers with highly active antiretroviral therapy, according to research presented this week at the 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, held from July 19 to 22 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Charles van der Horst, M.D., of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, and colleagues studied 2,637 mother-infant pairs in Malawi who received single dose nevirapine and one week of twice-daily zidovudine/lamivudine. Afterward, they randomly assigned the pairs to receive either daily infant nevirapine syrup, twice daily maternal highly active antiretroviral therapy, or no additional antiretroviral therapy.

After 28 weeks, the researchers found that the estimated risk of HIV transmission was significantly lower in the infant intervention and maternal intervention pairs (1.8 and 3 percent, respectively) than in control pairs (6.4 percent). They also found that the estimated risk of HIV transmission or infant death was significantly lower in the infant intervention and maternal intervention pairs (2.9 and 4.7 percent, respectively) than in control pairs (7.6 percent).

"This is an exciting development," van der Horst said in a statement. "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 breast-feeding."

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