Short course of zidovudine cuts transmission of HIV

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 28 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:645
  1. Terri Rutter
  1. Boston

    The rates at which HIV is transmitted from infected mothers to their infants can be halved by a treatment regimen that is shorter and less expensive than the accepted standard of care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States announced last week.

    The finding is particularly relevant to developing countries, where 90% of new HIV infections are estimated to occur. The World Health Organisation estimates that over the next five years 5-10 million children will contract HIV perinatally: most of them will be in the developing world.

    For four years the antiretroviral drug zidovudine has been known to reduce perinatal transmission of HIV. In 1994 the AIDS Clinical Trials Group 076 showed that a treatment regimen of zidovudine reduced perinatal HIV transmission by up to 70%. Under the 076 regimen, a pregnant woman with HIV infection begins taking zidovudine at 24 weeks of pregnancy and continues to take it throughout the rest of her pregnancy. She receives an intravenous dose of zidovudine during labour, and the newborn baby is also given zidovudine. This has now become standard care …

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