HIV and BREASTFEEDING AGAIN
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/02/13
In science, hypotheses get modified as data accumulates. In HIV/AIDS research, the basic dogmas are not modified as actual data falsify them. “HIV” continues to be pronounced a sexually transmitted virus even as a great deal of evidence from epidemiology and from clinical practice says that it isn’t (WHAT “HIV” IS NOT: IT’S NOT SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED, 6 January 2008). Condom use is urged in face of the evidence that they make no difference (or are even associated with a HIGHER rate of HIV-positive—see CONDOMS AND HIV: WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS IS ONCE AGAIN WRONG, 10 February 2008 ).
Breastfeeding is associated with less “transmission of HIV” than not breastfeeding (MORE HIV, LESS INFECTION: THE BREASTFEEDING CONUNDRUM, 21 November 2007). Nevirapine and AZT are known to produce irreversible, lifelong mitochondrial damage to babies exposed to them (FIRST: DO NO HARM!, 19 December 2007). And still there are further “studies” carried on to see whether those toxic drugs can prevent “HIV infection” supposedly incurred through breastfeeding:
“Longer drug regimen found to help babies avoid H.I.V.”, by Lawrence K. Altman, New York Times 5 February 2008
“Over recent years, giving an antiretroviral drug to a woman infected with the AIDS virus in labor and to her baby at birth has reduced the risk of transmitting the virus to the baby. Yet many babies born uninfected go on to acquire H.I.V. . . in the lengthy period of breast feeding because of contamination of the mother’s milk. Now researchers have found for the first time that the incidence of the virus among breast-fed infants can be significantly reduced by extending antiretroviral drugs for much longer periods, up to six months. . . . Breast feeding accounts for up to 48 percent of H.I.V. infections among infants in developing countries . . . . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . . . paid for three of the five breast-feeding studies reported at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections . . . . Additional studies will be needed to determine the cost effectiveness of longer-term therapy. . . . ‘The next series of studies will need to determine the optimal time for treating mothers and infants,’ said Dr. Fauci, whose agency paid for the fifth breast-feeding study. The studies reported here evaluated regimens and the potential of drug resistance among mothers and babies in India and African countries. In a study in the Kisumu area of Kenya, along Lake Victoria, infected mothers took a combination of antiretrovirals from the 34th week of pregnancy and for the first six months of breast feeding their children. The newborns were given the standard single dose of nevirapine to prevent H.I.V. infection that might have occurred in delivery. Of 497 newborns, 12, or 2.4 percent, were infected by the end of the first week of life, from infection in the womb or at birth. An additional 15 infants, or 3 percent, became infected 8 days to 12 months from breast feeding. In a study in Blantyre, Malawi, more than 3,000 infants received one of three regimens of antiretrovirals for the first 14 weeks of life. After nine months of observation, the group that received nevirapine for 14 weeks had the lowest percent of infected infants, 3.1 percent. That compared with 10 percent among the control group, which received one dose of nevirapine and one week of another antiretroviral, AZT. Another part of the Kisumu study showed that most of the infants infected in the first six months of life showed laboratory evidence of genetic resistance to the antiretroviral drugs in the study. But the authors cautioned that the finding did not mean that the drugs would necessarily fail in treating the infants.”
All the earlier studies that showed breastfeeding in developing countries to be beneficial are simply ignored.
All the studies showing the harm to babies from nevirapine and AZT are ignored. The decrease in “infections” was reported, but how did the babies fare in terms of overall health?
Additional studies are always needed. The number of HIV/AIDS researchers is vast, and they need grants.
Such studies are carried out most readily in Africa. One reason is that ethical requirements for clinical trials include that all those who enroll must be offered no less than the usual standard of care. That requirement is most readily met in Africa, where the usual standard of care in many places is no care at all. That’s why it’s possible in Africa to study whether it’s worth feeding malnourished people (DRUGS OR FOOD?, 25 December 2007) and whether it’s worth de-worming children (ARE INTESTINAL WORMS GOOD FOR US? ARE THEY GOOD FOR AFRICANS? FOR AFRICAN CHILDREN?, 30 December 2007) by contrast to treating them with antiretroviral drugs whose costs exceed those of food and of de-worming medications by orders of magnitude.
Words fail me at this stage. The “drugs or food” issue had even been raised in a couple of editorials in the New York Times without bringing any warranted chorus of outrage.
This entry was posted on 2008/02/13 at 9:51 am and is filed under antiretroviral drugs, clinical trials, HIV in children, HIV transmission. Tagged: HIV and breastfeeding. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.