04 August 2010
By Shashwat Gupta Ray
Looking to curb the transmission of HIV virus from infected mother to child, Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Sassoon General Hospital (SGH) and the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in a collaborative research have found that with a prolonged anti–HIV medication, breast milk can be safe for infants born from HIV positive mothers.
A Six Week Extended Dose Nevirapine (SWEN) study was done to evaluate the risk of HIV transmission rates to the infants born to HIV infected mothers due to breast feeding. The researchers wanted to see whether by giving daily Nevirapine, an anti–HIV drug, till the child is six weeks of age, one can decrease the risk of HIV transmission from the HIV infected mother to the infant due to breastfeeding.
“In this SWEN study, the children breastfed by HIV+ mothers were included as samples. There were two arms of study – first arm involved administering single dose of Nevirapine to the mother before delivery and single dose Nevirapine given to the newborn soon after birth.”
“In second arm, six weeks of extended dose of Nevirapine was given from day eight to day 42 after birth, in addition to the single dose Nevirapine given after birth,” head, Clinical Sciences Department, NARI, Srikanth P Tripathy told Sakàl Times.
A total of 986 infants were given single dose of Nevirapine and 901 infants were given SWEN regimen, in which six weeks extended dose of Nevirapine was given to the infants. For the primary end point of HIV transmission at six months age, SWEN infants had 20 per cent lower risk of HIV infection than the infants who received single dose of the drug. When the analysis was done for six weeks, infants who received the SWEN regimen had 46 per cent lower risk of HIV infection than the infants who received single dose Nevirapine.
If one looks at the mortality of children, the figure at six months of age for SWEN arm was 1.12 per cent, compared to 3.61 per cent in single dose Nevirapine infants. The risk of HIV transmission or mortality at six weeks for SWEN arm infants was 3.71 per cent and in single dose Nevirapine arm, it was 6.81 per cent.
“Thus, the study shows that prolonged administration of the anti–HIV drug Nevirapine to the newborn infants from eight to 42 days of the child can reduce transmission of HIV from mother to child through breastfeeding. It can also reduce the mortality in children born to HIV infected mothers,” Tripathy said.
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