Only Half of HIV-Exposed Infants Get Prevention

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As the world’s eye is on the 2010 Vienna HIV/AIDS Conference, a new study was released showing that only half of HIV-exposed infants are receiving a preventative drug, nevirapine, in Africa even though it is available.

In a July 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that only 51% of HIV-exposed babies received the minimal regimen of the drug to protect them. “What this study shows us is that there are programmatic failures and common problems that occur along the path to mother-to-child prevention,” says Dr. Stringer, of University of Alabama at Birmingham-affiliated Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and wife of Dr. Jeffrey Stringer, M.D. who directs the Zambian center.

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The study “underscores the need to expand programs that strive for global pediatric AIDS control, and to incorporate ongoing monitoring and quality-improvements into all nevirapine-based care programs.” Indeed, as reported in recent news, there is progress being made towards preventive care. One report even says that researchers were able to create HIV-resistant cells in mice. Also, a vaginal gel is being developed to help prevent the spread.

One report showed that there is a higher risk of infection among those who live in poverty. It is important that all these developments are made affordable and available to those in these communities.

The usefulness of nevirapine has been limited because of how many infected and at-risk patients receive the drug. If doctors can get patients to take the single-dose preventative 100% of the time, the rate of mother-to-child spread will dramatically decrease. Prevention is the theme of this year’s WHO HIV/AIDS conference in Vienna.

A participant in this study, the UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) is “one of the seven original centers establish in 1988 by the federal government to stimulate research and advances in fighting AIDS and HIV.” The UAB CFAR is a source for this article.

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