Feb 24, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Anti-HIV Drugs Protect Breastfeeding Infants From HIV Virus

Nov 23, 2015 07:58 PM EST

On Nov. 19, Thursday, a recent study has unfolded that direct administration of anti-AIDS drugs to breastfeeding infants by HIV positive mothers significantly reduces the chance of getting the disease. The 12 months study conducted showed that less than 1.5 percent of babies contracted the virus when the anti-viral drug was administered while being breastfed.

This is the primary breakthrough to determine the efficacy of AIDS medications of preventing mother-to-child transmission in breastfeeding infants for longer than 6 months. Breastfeeding is almost always encouraged as this is one of the best methods, especially in poor countries, to increase infant survival.

However, mother-to-child breastfeeding transmission is the hindrance. These latest findings at hand will feed on the ongoing debate of breastfeeding's nutritional benefits over risk of being contaminated with the deadly AIDS virus.

"This finding justifies the extension of infant pre-exposure prophylaxis until the end of HIV exposure through breastfeeding," study authors said. The findings showed "the need to inform mothers about the persistent risk of transmission throughout breastfeeding to prevent them stopping giving the treatment to their babies too soon."

Study participants included over 1200 children from Zambia, South Africa, Uganda and Burkina Faso, according to the International Business Times. Results revealed that when antiretroviral medications were taken by the mother, results were high at 2.4 percent over the 12-month breastfeeding period. But when these drugs are taken instead by infants, transmission risk dropped nearly half at 1.5 percent.

Furthermore, the team discovered that most of the HIV infections were because of discontinued treatments. Because of this study, more research is aimed at formulating more palatable medications for infants or potential long-acting injectable.

The World Health Organization recommends that women tested positive with HIV should breastfeed their infants over a minimum of 12 months, especially in poor, developing countries. Mothers' natural milk has been proven to contain sufficient nutrients enough to protect infants from serious illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea.

The United Nations reports that an estimated 39 million people died because of AIDS. And currently, there are over 35 million individuals suffering with the virus, most particularly in developing countries.

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