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Dr Amery Browne: Mother-to-child HIV transfer low in T&T
MP Dr Amery Browne said if the case of the Mississippi baby who was reportedly cured of HIV is duplicated, adjustments may need to be made to the protocol on HIV management. In a New York Times article on Sunday, doctors announced that a Mississippi baby had been cured of HIV after being treated aggressively with antiretroviral drugs, starting around 30 hours after birth. In a telephone interview, Browne said anything that presented additional hope for the future on the management and control of HIV was significant not only to this country but to the world.
Browne is a former technical director of the National Aids Co-ordinating Committee. “We have been doing well in this country over the past two decades in terms of mother-to-child transmission of the virus,” Browne said. He added, however, that there were occasional cases where the virus was detected late in the pregnancy and the baby contracted the virus. He said T&T paediatricians usually followed World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols on preventing and managing HIV in newborns and infants. This means minimising the risk of transmission from parent to child through the use of antiretroviral prophylaxis (preventive) treatment.
Browne said all medical practitioners would be following the development of the Mississippi baby closely as it offered hope for the future. “The take-home message is that HIV can no longer be considered a death sentence.” Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health Akenath Misir said it was too early to make generalised statements on reports of the baby in Mississippi being cured. “We have to see the follow-up and look at what will happen in the next few years,” Misir said. He said T&T was doing well in terms of managing HIV transmission between mother and child, and compared to many countries the rate of children being born with the virus was low. “Last year we had two children born with the virus, the year before that was three, and in 2010 we had zero babies born with the virus.”
Misir said the figures had to be looked at when compared to the fact that between 2008 and 2012 an average of 200 HIV-infected mothers delivered babies in T&T. “Out of that figure, only two babies on average are born HIV-positive,” he added.
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