Single Dose of Nevirapine as Effective as Six Weeks of AZT in Preventing Vertical HIV Transmission, Study Says
Giving newborns a single dose of the drug nevirapine no more than 24 hours after birth can protect them against vertical transmission of HIV at least as well as currently used treatments, according to a study presented Friday at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, the New York Times reports. Dr. Glenda Gray, a researcher at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa, found that newborns who received nevirapine treatment, which costs 75 cents per dose, were "no more likely" to become infected with HIV than newborns who received the drug AZT, which costs $40 for the required six-week treatment. Giving nevirapine to both the mother and her newborn is already considered the "most feasible" way prevent HIV transmission. In the study, which lasted from October 2000 through February 2002, Gray and fellow researchers identified 781 babies who were born to HIV-positive women. The babies of women who chose to receive HIV/AIDS therapies were rejected from the study, while the babies of women who did not receive therapy were given either a single dose of nevirapine or six weeks of AZT treatment. The study found that of the infants who were HIV-negative at birth, 10.7% of those receiving AZT became infected, compared with only 7.3% of those receiving nevirapine. Nevirapine also appeared to protect breast-fed infants from HIV infection during the first six weeks after birth. Previous studies have determined that most infections transmitted through breast milk occur during that time period (Altman, New York Times, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.