The findings of the largest study into mother-to-child HIV
transmission show an infant infection rate of just 1.2 per cent
following the recommended interventions (a report published by AIDS
This is a drop from over 20 percent in the mid
1990s, before effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available,
and is the first time that such low rates of infection have been
observed at a population level.
Women who are aware of their HIV
at an early stage in pregnancy are able to make a number of important
choices about the best way to safeguard their health and protect their
baby. Antenatal testing is recommended to all pregnant women in the UK
and Ireland and acceptance rates are very high.
Most HIV positive
women now take a combination of ART drugs during pregnancy, and while
caesarean section delivery reduces the risk of infection to the child,
this study showed that in many cases the drugs are so effective that a
normal delivery is possible.
Data were collected on 5151 HIV positive pregnant women in the UK and Ireland between 2000 and 2006.
Townsend, Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Child Health and lead
author on the study said, “Our findings are greatly encouraging. They
demonstrate that if women are tested for HIV early enough in pregnancy
for ART to be initiated, the risk of infection to their baby is very low
“This emphasizes the importance of achieving and maintaining a high uptake of antenatal HIV testing on a national scale.
into the study was carried out at UCL Institute of Child Health, in
collaboration with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and the
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The research was
funded by the Health Protection Agency and the Medical Research Council.
For further information contact Hayley Dodman, Great Ormond Street Hospital press office, on 020 7239 3126 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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