HIV Drug a Double-Edged Sword for Infants

SUNDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The antiretroviral drug nevirapine may help prevent babies of HIV-positive mothers from getting the virus through breast-feeding, but it also greatly increases the odds of developing drug-resistant HIV if they are infected during the first year of life, a new study finds.

Still, the researchers consider the six-week course of the drug the best alternative available.

Given the higher chance of a baby on nevirapine acquiring treatment-resistant HIV, the authors call for the infants to also receive protease inhibitors (PIs), which can combat nevirapine-resistant HIV strains.

"Until other interventions become available, the extended nevirapine regimen remains a reasonable way to prevent infections through breast-feeding," senior investigator Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatric HIV expert at John Hopkins Children's Center, said in a news release issued by the school.

The study, published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Public Library of Science One, noted the treatment is best for HIV-positive mothers in developing countries where bottle feeding is not an alternative because of cost, safety or availability.

HIV infection is estimated to occur in one out of 10 breast-fed infants, most of the time happening in the first 14 weeks of life, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends breast-feeding for at least six months despite the known risk of HIV transmission.

Two reports published in 2008 found that a six-week treatment of nevirapine cut the risk of HIV infection from breast-feeding nearly in half, while a 14-week regimen cut it by 66 percent.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has more about HIV infection in women.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Children's Center, news release, Jan. 5, 2009

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...