Nevirapine to Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Does Not Undermine Health of Women, Study Says
August 21, 2006
Nevirapine, the antiretroviral medication that is widely used in Africa to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, is safe and does not affect the long-term health of women who take it, according to a study released Wednesday at XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the Birmingham New reports. Previous research in Uganda indicated that taking a single dose of the treatment could create a drug-resistant HIV strain in some women and children who took it, the News reports. For the new study, conducted at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, Benjamin Chi, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, examined 4,552 women receiving HIV/AIDS treatment, including 445 women who had used a single dose of nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. After one year, there was no significant difference in mortality or in serious illnesses between women who had taken nevirapine and those who had not, Chi said. The study did find a potential risk of antiretroviral treatment failure for a small group of women who had begun the treatment fewer than six months after receiving nevirapine. According to Chi, that group of women might have had more advanced cases of HIV/AIDS and should have begun a full antiretroviral regimen before delivering to protect both themselves and their infants. Chi said further research on the subject is needed, but he stressed that pregnant women should be tested more vigilantly for HIV and be provided with effective antiretroviral treatment. The Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia is a partnership between UAB and the Zambian government, and the study was funded by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the News reports. The foundation and CIDRZ have been developing programs on mother-to-child transmission of HIV for the last five years, and they support more than 90 clinics in Zambia (Parks, Birmingham News, 8/17).
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