In the late 1980s, the average rate of HIV transmission from infected mothers
to their newborns was 30 percent in the Greater Worcester region. Today, that
rate has dropped to less than one percent.
|Research and treatment Improves
Maternal-Child HIV Outcomes
MD, chief of pediatric immunology and infectious disease, credits this decline
to research, much of which occurred locally through our Maternal-child HIV
Program. Founded in 1987, the program is a joint Medical Center/UMass Medical
School initiative and includes a clinical trials unit that is one of 18 US
clinical sites funded by the National Institutes of Health to conduct trials to
reduce mother-child transmission and improve treatment options for HIV-positive
"A clinical trial in the early 1990s showed that an antiviral drug -
azidothymidine - interrupted mother-child transmission of HIV," said Dr.
Luzuriaga. "This was a landmark study in HIV prevention, which led to widespread
screening programs to identify HIV-positive women and offer them therapy to
prevent transmission to their children."
While few infants are born with HIV today, those who are can expect to
experience a good quality of life for decades with available therapies. Dr.
Luzuriaga and her team continue to work closely with these patients and
collaborate with colleagues around the world to research and develop ways to
prevent mother-child transmission and improve pediatric HIV treatment in
settings with limited resources.