Anti-HIV Drug For Infants Counters Virus In Breastmilk

A new research has found that a year of liquid antiretroviral drug treatment protected breastfed babies against being infected by their HIV-positive moms.

The study found that babies provided with up to a year of liquid HIV drug formula, while being breastfed by their HIV-infected mothers, were protected from the condition. The benefits also showed in the period of six to 12 months after birth, which was not previously covered in other studies.

The team, led by Professor Philippine Van de Perre, performed the study on over 1,200 kids with HIV-positive moms who were yet to be qualified to get antiretroviral therapy (ART). Of the children located in South Africa, Burkina Faso, Zambia, and Uganda, those who were assigned to drug regimen lopinavir-ritonavir were 615, while those who were given lamivudine were 621.

The research – published in the journal The Lancet – is said to be the first to assess infant protection from HIV past six months of breastfeeding, or up to 50 weeks.

The authors wrote that around half of the HIV-1 infections in the two groups took place past 6 months of breastfeeding. HIV exposure was much decreased during the period owing to lowering milk consumptions and with some females halting breastfeeding before 50 weeks.

Transmission risk stayed high at about 2.4 percent within 12 months of breastfeeding when the antiretroviral medications were taken by the moms themselves, while special formulations given directly to the infants translated reduce the transmission risk down to 1.5 percent.

They added that the results justified extending babies’ pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) until the end of HIV exposure and the importance of informing mothers of continuing transmission risks through breastfeeding.

"Infant PrEP proved an effective and safe alternative to prevent postnatal HIV-1 transmission for mothers who are not ready or prepared to embark on long-term ART,” the researchers concluded.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 12 months of breastfeeding for babies of HIV-positive mothers, especially in developing countries. Giving the infants crucial nutrients had been seen helpful in avoiding serious illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

Existing HIV/AIDS treatments do not cure the infection, but instead help infected individuals live longer and manage their symptoms. Poor patients are faced with limited access to drugs and no preventive vaccine.

According to estimates from the United Nations, 39 million have been killed by AIDS, while 35 million more are living with the virus at present. An overwhelming portion of this statistic hails from poverty-stricken countries.

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