Providing antiretroviral therapy within the first two months of life to infants infected with HIV from their mothers significantly improves their health outcomes, dramatically lowering the chances that they will have developed AIDS by age 3, researchers report in the May 11 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study followed 205 infants infected by their mothers in North Carolina between 1988 and 2003; 134 of the babies received antiretroviral drugs, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis, or both. Of the 10 infants who began drug therapy within the first two months of life, only one progressed to an AIDS diangosis by age 1 and only three had developed AIDS by age 3. By comparison, half of the 16 HIV-positive infants who began treatment between three and four months of life had developed AIDS by age 1 and 11 of them--nearly 70%--had progressed to an AIDS diagnosis by age 3.
'We also identified that children who start therapy when they are severely immunocompromised also had a shorter time to regimen switch,' Susan Brogly of the Harvard School of Public Health says. This is key, because the 'more exposure to more drug classes and specific drugs, the more it can lead to drug resistance if not taken properly. Switching could also result in a reduction of future treatment options.'