New Short-Course AZT Treatment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 1998
WHITE HOUSE AIDS CZAR HAILS NEW TREATMENT TO REDUCE MOTHER-TO-CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV
I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to researchers from Thailand and the United States who have found an effective and more affordable treatment regimen for reducing the transmisison of HIV from mothers to children. They have brought a bright ray of hope to the darkness of the AIDS pandemic.
This morning, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta announced preliminary results from a controversial clinical study, showing that a "short course" of zidovudine (AZT) resulted in a reduction by half of the transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their newborn children.
This study has tremendous implications for helping curb the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Most importantly, it demonstrates the efficacy of a treatment regimen of AZT that is far more affordable and deliverable than the standard course used in the United States.
With 5.8 million new infections occuring each year, most of which are in the developing world, there is a desperate need for strategies to reduce infections. Unfortunately, most of these countries have neither the funds nor the infrastructure to support the long course of AZT that is the standard treatment regiment for pregnant women in the developed world. The new short course costs a fraction of the long course ($50 versus $800) and does not require the intravenous treatments that would be virtually impossible in most developing nations.
Based upon these preliminary results, the CDC (in conjunction with the National Insitutes of Health, the Agence Nationale De Recherches Sur le Sida and UNAIDS) are recommending that controversial placebo control arms of all similar studies be replaced by this new short course regimen.
This is a story about researchers, governments, and communities working together to battle this epidemic. We now know about a tool to save hundreds of thousands of children that would otherwise be lost. The challenge ahead is to figure out how to make this tool available as widely as possible. The United States will continue its leadership in addressing the global epidemic, particularly in implementing this exciting new treatment strategy.
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