Antiretroviral drug protects breastfeeding babies from HIV-infected mothers

Antiretroviral drug protects breastfeeding babies from HIV infected mothers
Antiretroviral drug protects breastfeeding babies from HIV infected mothers | Courtesy of
Scientists recently conducted a study in four African nations to determine that administering a liquid antiretroviral drug treatment given to breastfeeding babies effectively protects the children from contracting HIV from mothers who have the infection.

The study, which was published in The Lancet, suggests that giving these babies liquid formula HIV drugs for up to 12 months while they breastfeed can protect the children.

"Crucially, about half of the postnatal HIV-1 infections in both groups occurred after six months of breastfeeding, while HIV exposure was much reduced during this period because of mixed feeding (lowering milk intakes) and some women stopping breastfeeding before 50 weeks,” the authors said. “This finding justifies the extension of infant pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) until the end of HIV exposure and the need to inform mothers about the persistent risk of transmission throughout breastfeeding to prevent them stopping giving the treatment to their babies too soon."

The scientists recommend the same administration within the first six to 12 months after the child is born, even though this has not yet been confirmed by research.

"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 authors said. “In addition, adding infant PrEP in breastfed babies whose mothers are taking ART is a strategy that should be assessed...At the population level, in countries where universal maternal ART cannot be implemented as recommended by WHO, infant PrEP with either lopinavir-ritonavir, lamivudine, or nevirapine for the whole duration of breastfeeding is also advisable."

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The Lancet

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