Shorter treatment as effective, less costly in preventing HIV in babies

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May allow developing countries to afford treatment

Of the more than 1,500 infants who get HIV from their infected mothers every day, 95 percent live in developing countries where the poverty level is high. Many mothers in these regions do not have access to the three- to six-month AZT treatment, now considered the standard treatment to prevent perinatal HIV transmission in developed countries. A study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health researchers and colleagues from Thailand and France demonstrated that transmission of HIV from a mother to her child can be reduced with shorter treatments of the drug AZT at one-fifth the usual cost of $1,000. “These new strategies to reduce pediatric AIDS can be applied in developing countries with success rates equal to those treatments used in industrialized nations,” explained Marc Lallemant, research associate in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and senior scientist at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, who directed the study.