A joint Uganda-U.S. study has found a highly effective and safe drug regimen for preventing transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her newborn that is more affordable and practical than any other examined to date. Interim results from the study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), demonstrate that a single oral dose of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine (NVP) given to an HIV-infected woman in labor and another to her baby within three days of birth reduces the transmission rate by half compared to a similar short course of AZT. If implemented widely in developing countries, this intervention potentially could prevent some 300,000 to 400,000 newborns per year from beginning life infected with HIV.
"This extraordinary finding is the most recent in our efforts to bring an end to AIDS, not only in the United States but in countries around the world," says Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "American scientists along with our international partners are committed to developing treatments that not only work, but that are also feasible in other health care settings. These results achieve both those goals."
"This study represents the most promising advance to date toward the goal of finding strategies that can be used worldwide to prevent the spread of HIV from infected mothers to their infants," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health.
In an announcement from Kampala this morning, Ugandan officials hailed the
finding. "This research provides real hope that we may be able to protect many
of Africa's next generation from the ravages of AIDS," says Crispus Kiyonga,
M.B.Ch.B., Uganda's Minister of Health. "We commend the collaborative effort of
our country's scientists, led by Professor Francis Mmiro from Makerere
University Faculty of Medicine, and their U.S. colleagues, led by Dr. Brooks
Jackson from The Johns Hopkins Univ
Contact: Office of Communications and Public Liaison
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases