African Countries Should Stop Using Nevirapine To Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission, Italian Group Says
African countries should stop using single-dose nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, officials from the Italian nongovernmental organization Sant'Egidio said on Tuesday, London's Guardian reports (Carroll, Guardian, 3/17). Health officials since 1999 have suggested that HIV-positive pregnant women receive a single dose of nevirapine during labor and that infants receive nevirapine once within the first three days after birth to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/10). However, Sant'Egidio spokesperson Mario Marazziti at a press conference announcing the group's HIV/AIDS treatment plan for six African countries said that the prevention method has "left too many infants with the virus and doomed them to being orphans since the single dose [does] not extend their mothers' lives," according to the Guardian. In addition, the single-dose method is contributing to an increase in the development of antiretroviral drug-resistant HIV strains in Africa, Marazziti said, adding that the method does not prevent vertical transmission in the 15% of pregnant women who have nevirapine-resistant HIV. Marazziti said that the single-dose nevirapine method for HIV-positive pregnant women should be replaced with an antiretroviral drug regimen starting several months before delivery. Paul Roux, a pediatrician at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, said he and his colleagues expect the single-dose nevirapine technique to be "phased out" because of the risk of drug resistance, according to the Guardian. However, James McIntyre, director of the perinatal research unit at the University of Witwatersand, said that calls to stop the technique were "well-meaning but naive," according to the Guardian (Guardian, 3/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.