Nevirapine results expected in July

The research is looking primarily at the use of Nevirapine in preventing the transmission of HIV from the mother to the child during birth.

According to health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang an earlier trial conducted in Uganda in collaboration with United States revealed that Nevirapine was safer, less expensive and more practical than AZT “or any other drug tested so far in preventing mother to child transmission”.

In the Uganda trial, Nevirapine was given to 310 mothers once during labour and delivery and the babies were given one dose within three days of being born.

The cost of Nevirapine is about R30 per mother and child.

McIntyre said the Chris Hani Baragwanath babies would be followed for up to six weeks before they are tested for HIV.

He said the plan had always been to present the results “at the earliest” at the Durban conference.

He said the research unit has promised to present the results in confidence to government as soon as possible, but he did not think it would be before June.

“If we have something before the Durban 2000 AIDS conference, we will do a confidential briefing, so that government are not caught off guard,” McIntyre said.

The minister said studies seemed to indicate that the development of resistance to Nivirapine was faster than to AZT, but that with a short course, one dose of Nivirapine, it was highly unlikely that resistance would develop.

Tshabalala-Msimang has also expressed concern around the toxic effects of Nevirapine in babies that is doubled because they get their own dose of the drug, plus a dose from the mothers during labour and delivery.

McIntyre confirmed that they were planning some resistance work on Nevirapine.

Celicia Serenata, deputy director of the HIV/AIDS directorate said they had been receiving regular updates on the Nevirapine trials.

She said they were expecting a briefing on preliminary results prior to the Durban conference.

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