AIDS Research Targets Mothers
Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
A discovery by American AIDS researchers working with pregnant women in Thailand could save as many as 200,000 children a year if the money can be found to pay for detection and prevention programs, said a U.S. AID official yesterday.
"In principle, this could save 100,000 to 200,000 people a year - we're hopeful about it," said Nils Daulaire, a pediatrician and senior health adviser to the Agency for International Development.
Trials in Thailand conducted by the U.S. agency have just shown that when the drug AZT is given during pregnancy to HIV-infected women, the percentage of babies born with the disease is cut in half - from 20 percent to 10 percent, said Dr. Daulaire yesterday.
Currently two out of 10 babies born to HIV-infected mothers are born with HIV, he said.
Some 2 million pregnant mothers in the developing world each year have the HIV virus, said Dr. Daulaire. Currently, 20 percent of their babies or 400,000 children are born with the virus. If treated under the new program tested in Thailand, half or 200,000 babies could be born HIV-free.
The U.S. foreign aid agency is sending a team of experts to Geneva this weekend to take part in U.N. conference Monday and Tuesday to try and implement the findings on mother-child transmission of AIDS.
"Now we are going to try and apply the results of this test and save lives around the world," said Dr. Daulaire yesterday. "We really do see this as a ray of hope in what has been a difficult picture. …