From Epidemic to Near Elimination
Children are most likely to get HIV from their mothers in 1 of 3 ways: in the womb, during birth, from breastfeeding or breast milk.
30 years of NICHD research has helped establish safe and effective ways to prevent this type of HIV transmission.
Emerging Risks of HIV
- In 1991, NICHD research showed a 25% chance of an HIV-positive pregnant woman passing the virus to her infant.
- There were no approved treatments for HIV-positive children.
- There were no proven ways to prevent transmission.
Using Treatment as Prevention
- The NICHD helped fund the first clinical trial to test the drug zidovudine (AZT) in HIV-positive pregnant women.
- Trial results were so impressive that the trial was stopped early so that all the participants could benefit from the treatment.
- In 1994, AZT became the standard treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women in the United States.
- AZT helped reduce mother-to-child transmission risk to 8.3%.
- Research from the NICHD and others showed that a 3-drug regimen—called HAART—was better than AZT at preventing mother-to-child transmission. A 2002 study showed that HAART reduced the risk of transmission to 1.2%.
- HAART became the standard treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women in the United States.
- Ongoing research, co-funded by NICHD, is looking at the long-term safety of fetal exposure to HAART during pregnancy.
NICHD continues to conduct cutting-edge research to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. To learn more, visit: http://go.usa.gov/FgXF.
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2013). How can I prevent myself or my child from getting HIV? Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/hiv/conditioninfo/Pages/prevent.aspx
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2014). Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS). Retrieved from: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/research/supported/Pages/phacs.aspx