HIV And Pregnancy: A Brief History And Where We Are Today
fetus is in the womb, most infections occur when the infant contacts the infected blood of the mother during delivery. This was important to know.
The first strategy to prevent infection of the baby was to avoid delivery through the birth canal by having a Caesarian delivery. While this may have been an option in the US and Europe, it was definitely not an option in developing countries. So what now?
The next big advanced occurred more than 30 years ago. Zidovudine (AZT) was the first drug approved for use in treating HIV. By itself, it is one of the weakest HIV medicines and has a number of side-effects. But we soon learned that AZT alone could reduce the risk of HIV transmission to a baby from an average of 25% down to about 8%.
This is a three-fold reduction of risk and the drug could literally be administered to the mother for the first time, intravenously during delivery and still work.
As combination therapy became available, we learned that if the mother was on therapy and undetectable at the time of delivery, the risk of