THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Use of Option B+ therapy shows reduction of maternal transmission of HIV

Option B+ has helped increase the number of women who begin antiretroviral therapy for HIV infections. | File photo

Columbia University researchers conducted a study in Swaziland to find that applying Option B+ has helped increase the number of women who begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV infections.

Safe Generations helped to create in-country capacity to distribute Option B+ among the nation’s residents, hoping to decrease the HIV transmission rates between mothers and their children. These results will help other policies and programs beyond Swaziland and through sub-Saharan Africa.

"Safe Generations is the first study of its kind in Swaziland, reflecting the on-the-ground experience of [prevent mother to child transmission] service delivery,” Ariel Pablos-Méndez, USAID Assistant Administrator, said. “The study provides insight into how health services are delivered and how changes in HIV care impact maternal child health outcomes.”

The study, called Safe Generations and presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston, was under the leadership of the Swaziland Ministry of Health, the University of Cape Town, and Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Despite the positive initial results from the study, there are still signs that much progress needs to be made to help women.

"It was exciting to learn that Option B+ offers substantial advantages over other approaches," Dr. Elaine Abrams, principal investigator of the study, said. "But we learned that, in Swaziland, it doesn't address all of the challenges women face obtaining health services during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Other interventions are urgently needed to improve retention in care and optimize health outcomes for women and their babies."

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