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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2004 Feb 1;35(2):178-87.

Use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV-1 transmission through breast-feeding: from animal studies to randomized clinical trials.

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World Health Organization, Reproductive Health and Research, Geneva, Switzerland.


The major remaining challenge in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission is the reduction of the risk in settings where breast-feeding is common. This review gives an update on ongoing or planned antiretroviral intervention studies in resource-limited settings that are aimed at reducing the risk of mother-to-infant HIV transmission during lactation. These strategies include antiretroviral therapy given to the mother to reduce viral load in plasma and breast milk as well as antiretroviral regimens providing prophylaxis to uninfected infants during the period of breast-feeding. The rationale for the interventions based on animal models and human studies is described as well as the study designs of clinical trials. Potential risks and benefits of these interventions to mothers and infants are also highlighted. Laboratory studies nested within several of these trials will provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of postnatal HIV transmission and its potential prevention using antiretroviral drugs.

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