PEARL Study Shows Only Half of HIV-Positive Infants Receive Necessary Medicines
Dr. Laura Guay
July 22, 2010
Photo: Georgina Goodwin
Results from the PEARL study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that only half of the HIV-exposed infants being followed in prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs in four countries, received Nevirapine-based services to increase the chance that they would be born HIV-free. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which helped fund the study and participated in the research, is encouraged by the success shown in some of the sites, but mindful of the work ahead in others.
While this study shows we have a long way to go to ensure that all HIV infected women and their infants receive the full benefit of comprehensive prevention services, the results provide us with critical information to identify – and therefore close – the existing gaps. Results varied considerably between countries and within countries from site to site, which gives us the opportunity to learn from and replicate successful approaches. Young mothers, those with few antenatal visits, and low birth-weight babies were less likely to receive the full regimen. These findings reinforce the Foundation’s emphasis on the importance of improving overall maternal-child health services.
We have the medicines, we have the technology – we know how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, making pediatric AIDS almost entirely preventable. In moving forward we must learn from studies like this one and design innovative strategies to maximize the delivery and uptake of proven interventions and create a generation free of HIV.
Dr. Laura Guay is Vice President of Research at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. She is based in Washington, D.C., but reporting from the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna.