European Commission Releases ‘First-Ever’ Guidelines for Prevention of Vertical HIV Transmission
The European Commission on Thursday released its "first-ever" set of guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 6/20). The guidelines recommend that all pregnant women and their partners undergo an HIV test. They also state that women should be given the option to deliver by caesarean section instead of vaginally, as the use of c-sections before the onset of labor and the rupture of membranes has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the infant. All HIV-positive pregnant women should be offered antiretroviral therapy, although the timing and type of therapy offered should depend on an individual woman's clinical status, the guidelines state. The commission also recommends that all children born to HIV-positive women receive antiretroviral therapy immediately after birth, and states that HIV-positive women should be "strongly advise[d]" not to breastfeed their infants (European Commission release, 6/20). These and other "appropriate" precautions can reduce the odds of vertical HIV transmission from 15%-20% to less than 2%, the commission noted. The guidelines, which will be published in the June 28 issue of the journal AIDS, were drafted by a group of 15 research teams from seven European nations, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said, calling them a "good example of the benefits of cooperation at an E.U.-wide level" (Reuters Health, 6/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.