Upstate News

August 14, 2002
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Drug does not lower risk of perinatal HIV transmission, SUNY Upstate study finds

A new study shows that using intrapartum/newborn nevirapine does not further reduce perinatal HIV transmission in HIV-infected pregnant women who are already receiving prenatal care and the standard antiretoviral therapy (ART).

The findings from the Pediatric ACTG 316 Team were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association July 10. Coleen Cunningham, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, was the study’s corresponding author. “The two-dose intrapartum/newborn nevirapine regimen has been shown to reduce perinatal HIV transmission in women not receiving ART,” she said. “We were hoping to find that the combination of ART and nevirapine would show further reduction in perinatal HIV transmission.”

But Cunningham said that was not the case. The trial was ended early because HIV transmission rates were low overall for women receiving ART with elective caesarean section available. Researchers believe that the frequent use of ART together with more than a third of the women opting to deliver by c-section accounted for the low HIV-transmission rates among the study participants.

In the study 1,270 women received a 200 mg. dose of oral nevirapine or placebo after the onset of labor. Infants were followed for six months to determine HIV infection status.

Cunningham said researchers were most surprised to find that the nevirapine therapy did not lower transmission rates for women at the highest risk of HIV transmission.

Despite the study’s conclusions, the research team believes that intrapartum nevirapine could prevent HIV infection in children in developing countries where ART is not available.

Nevirapine is also known as Viramune.

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