6-month drug regimen ‘reduces HIV risk for breastfeeding infants’

March 3rd, 2011 - 2:55 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 3 (ANI): In a new study, scientists found that giving breastfeeding infants of HIV-infected mothers a daily dose of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine for six months halved the risk of HIV transmission to the infants at age 6 months compared with giving infants the drug daily for six weeks.

The longer nevirapine regimen achieved a 75 percent reduction in HIV transmission risk through breast milk for the infants of HIV-infected mothers with higher T-cell counts who had not yet begun treatment for HIV.

“Extended breastfeeding reduces infant mortality in places that lack safe, clean water by protecting babies from common childhood diseases because breast milk contains protective antibodies from the mother that formula feeding does not provide,” says Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, which funds the trial.

“These findings show that giving the infants of HIV-infected mothers an antiretroviral drug daily for the full duration of breastfeeding safely minimizes the threat of HIV transmission through breast milk while preserving the health benefits of extended breastfeeding.”

The new findings apply to mothers and infants in developing nations, where infectious diseases such as gastroenteritis and pneumonia often pose a life-threatening risk to very young children.

The study was presented at the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston on March 2, 2011. (ANI)

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