TB Drug Isoniazid Could Help Reduce by Half Child Deaths From AIDS-Related Illnesses, Study Says
The inexpensive tuberculosis drug isoniazid could help reduce by half the number of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses among children, according to a study published earlier this month in BMJ, the Pretoria News reports. Heather Zar, head of pediatric pulmonology at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in South Africa, and colleagues administered isoniazid to 263 HIV-positive children either daily or three times weekly. The children also were given the drug Bactrim, which they were taking for HIV in accordance with World Health Organization recommendations. The researchers observed a 50% reduction in the number of deaths and a 70% reduction in the number of TB cases among the children, according to Zar. She added that isoniazid reduced deaths among children at all stages of HIV infection, as well as in children with a range of other illnesses. The researchers did not observe any serious side effects. The study was scheduled to continue for two years, but the drug was shown to be so effective in preventing deaths that the researchers halted the placebo part of the trial. Zar said the use of isoniazid with Bactrim among HIV-positive children might become routine. The researchers plan to conduct a second stage of the trial to determine whether the results are similar among children taking antiretroviral drugs (Caelers, Pretoria News, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.