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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008 Jul 1;48(3):315-23. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31816e395c.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 through breast-feeding by treating infants prophylactically with lamivudine in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: the Mitra Study.

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Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.



To investigate the possibility of reducing mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV-1 through breast-feeding by prophylactic antiretroviral (ARV) treatment of the infant during the breast-feeding period.


An open-label, nonrandomized, prospective cohort study in Tanzania (Mitra).


HIV-1-infected pregnant women were treated according to regimen A of the Petra trial with zidovudine (ZDV) and lamivudine (3TC) from week 36 to 1 week postpartum. Infants were treated with ZDV and 3TC from birth to 1 week of age (Petra arm A) and then with 3TC alone during breast-feeding (maximum of 6 months). Counseling emphasized exclusive breast-feeding. HIV transmission was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier survival technique. Cox regression was used for comparison with the breast-feeding population in arm A of the Petra trial, taking CD4 cell count and other possible confounders into consideration.


There were 398 infants included in the transmission analysis in the Mitra study. The estimated cumulative proportion of HIV-1-infected infants was 3.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.0 to 5.6) at week 6 after delivery and 4.9% (95% CI: 2.7 to 7.1) at month 6. The median time of breast-feeding was 18 weeks. High viral load and a low CD4 T-cell count at enrollment were associated with transmission. The Kaplan-Meier estimated risk of HIV-1 infection at 6 months in infants who were HIV-negative at 6 weeks was 1.2% (95% CI: 0.0 to 2.4). The cumulative HIV-1 infection or death rate at 6 months was 8.5% (95% CI: 5.7 to 11.4). No serious adverse events related to the ARV treatment of infants occurred. The HIV-1 transmission rate during breast-feeding in the Mitra study up to 6 months after delivery was more than 50% lower than in the breast-feeding population of Petra arm A (relative hazard=2.61; P=0.001; adjusted values). The difference in transmission up to 6 months was significant also in the subpopulation of mothers with CD4 counts>or=200 cells/microL.


The rates of MTCT of HIV-1 in the Mitra study at 6 weeks and 6 months after delivery are among the lowest reported in a breast-feeding population in sub-Saharan Africa. Prophylactic 3TC treatment of infants to prevent MTCT of HIV during breast-feeding was well tolerated by the infants and could be a useful strategy to prevent breast milk transmission of HIV when mothers do not need ARV treatment for their own health.

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