Two-Drug Antiretroviral Regimen Cuts Vertical HIV Transmission Rate by More Than Half, Thai Doctors Say
Doctors at a major Thai hospital yesterday announced that they have cut the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission by more than 50% using a combination antiretroviral treatment consisting of zidovudine and lamivudine, Agence France-Presse reports. According to the Thai Red Cross, the rate of vertical transmission is approximately 7% to 8% when a pregnant woman is treated with zidovudine alone. But researchers at Siriraj Hospital reported that the vertical transmission rate dropped to 2.8% when pregnant women and infants received treatment with a combination of zidovudine and lamivudine. Under the treatment, pregnant women receive both zidovudine and lamivudine every 12 hours until the onset of labor, when they are given the drugs every three hours until delivery. Infants receive zidovudine every six hours during the first four weeks of life and continue to take the drug for a month (Agence France-Presse, 7/30). Very few women experienced side effects from the treatment (Thailand Nation, 7/30). One of the most important aspects of the combination regimen was that it was affordable, costing only $43 per month, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 7/30). Piyasakol Sakolsatayathorn, dean of Siriraj's faculty of medicine, said that the zidovudine/lamivudine treatment also will not cost the government a lot because the country's Government Pharmaceutical Organization can produce the two drugs in one tablet (Assavanonda, Bangkok Post, 7/30). The Thai public health ministry is considering encouraging the treatment in public hospitals (Agence France-Presse, 7/30). The hospital will now work with other organizations to conduct a study evaluating the effectiveness of a triple-drug antiretroviral regimen on vertical transmission (Thailand Nation, 7/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.