Geneva, Switzerland -- Antiviral drug treatment can be a cost-effective measure in both Tanzania and Thailand to reduce the high rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, say University of California San Francisco AIDS researchers.
In a new study, the UCSF team found that short-course therapy using the antiviral drug zidovudine, or AZT, was economically feasible in both urban and rural populations in these countries.
Research findings were reported here today (July 3) at the 12th World AIDS Conference.
"In this study, we wanted to determine under what conditions, if any, this short-course drug regimen might be a good investment compared with funding for other types of HIV prevention efforts in very poor countries, such as Tanzania, and in those with more resources, such as Thailand," said Elliot Marseille, DrPH, MPP, lead investigator and senior research associate with the UCSF AIDS Research Institute and the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies.
The researchers chose AZT for their economic analysis because of previous clinical trials in Thailand that showed short-course treatment with this drug reduced transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their unborn children by 50 percent. The trials were sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This is important because short-course therapy, which begins four weeks before the birth due date and ends after delivery, is far more affordable than the standard regimen in the industrialized world, which begins 12 weeks before the due date and also involves continued treatment of the infant in the post-natal period," Marseille said.
He added, "This means that prevention is now possible for a much higher portion of mother-to-child HIV transmission cases worldwide."
In the UCSF study, researchers used a mathematical model to calculate
cost-effectiveness by comparing costs and outcomes of no drug treatment to
short-course AZT therapy in pregnant women from three different se
Contact: Corinna Kaarlela
University of California - San Francisco