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Medical News

Australia: Remote Service Could Halt HIV Spread From Mums

April 10, 2008

A recent study suggests a treatment model applied in Western Australia could be used in other countries to prevent mother-to-child (MTC) HIV transmission.

In 1999, in response to the needs of HIV patients in remote areas, a rural immunology clinical service was established in Western Australia. From 1999 to 2005, the service saw 56 pregnant women with HIV, including 22 Aboriginal women.

A multidisciplinary team carried out the treatment model, which involved drug treatment for mothers and babies and abstinence from breast feeding. Among the 48 women treated via this approach, there were no cases of MTC transmission. In contrast, five HIV-infected babies were born to the eight women who had no contact with the team.

Study co-author Professor Martyn French of Royal Perth Hospital said other locales with populations in far-flung districts, such as Africa and Thailand, could benefit from the treatment model.

"They can learn that there's more to it than just medical management; there's more to it than just providing drugs; what is as important is supporting the patients through the actions of social workers, health care workers, nurses, etc.," French said.

"All the specialists were in Perth; people who lived in the north of the state found it very difficult to access specialist care," French said. "So by setting up this service, we were able to provide advice on patient management. We were able to provide the drugs through local doctors and nurses, and what we have is a coordinator of the service in Perth."

The full report, "Perinatal HIV Transmission and Pregnancy Outcomes in Indigenous Women in Western Australia," was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2007;47(5):362-367).

Back to other news for April 2008

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
04.08.2008; Andrew Hayward

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
More Research on Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS