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BJMC to participate in international study on HIV

Sakaal Times
29 November 2010
By Shashwat Gupta Ray
Pune, India

To find out if all HIV+ pregnant women can be given drugs irrespective of their immunity levels
BJMC to participate in international study on HIV
The BJ Medical College (BJMC) is participating in a multi–country programme, which will assess whether India’s national programme should provide all HIV–infected pregnant women medicines irrespective of their CD4 count (immunity) so as to decrease the HIV transmission to a minimum in a cost–effective way.

It is a well known fact that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) medicines given during pregnancy to all HIV–infected mothers decrease the chances of transmission of HIV to their babies to less than 1%. However, our national programme provides HIV medicines to HIV–infected pregnant women with lesser immunity only (CD4 count less than 350 cells). The reason quoted for this is lack of resources (or too expensive).

So, the question arises whether all HIV–infected pregnant women should receive HIV medicines and what options are beneficial to these women and their infants? Whether these options are cost effective? Whether breastfeeding or top feeding (cow’s milk or milk substitutes) are beneficial?

"To answer these questions, BJMC plans to participate in a multi country trial namely, PROMISE (Promoting Maternal and Infant Survival Everywhere)," BJMC Dean and principal investigator of Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) Dr Arun Jamkar told ‘Sakal Times’.

BJMC CTU director Dr Vidya Mave and study coordinator Dr Nishi Suryavanshi added that all HIV–infected pregnant women with good immunity (CD4 count more than 350) are eligible to participate in the study.

"The women and/or their infants will receive HIV medicines during the study. The planned date for initiation of this study is early 2011 and it will be conducted under the supervision of Dr P W Sambrey (Head, Obstetrics and Gynaecology) and Dr Aarti Kinikar (Head, Pediatrics), who are the principal investigators of this study," Dr Suryavanshi added.

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