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Hard to find,HIV-positive children for crucial study

Researchers at B J Medical College are facing a challenging task of identifying HIV positive babies and children,in the age group of six months to three years,who have not received any treatment so far.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
June 17, 2009 11:43:30 pm

Researchers at B J Medical College (BJMC) are facing a challenging task of identifying HIV positive babies and children,in the age group of six months to three years,who have not received any treatment so far. At least 21 are to be included in a multi-centric trial aimed at finding newer and effective HIV drug regimen.

Locating such babies and children for the study has become an extremely difficult task,say researchers at BJMC,the only medical college in the country selected by the National Institutes of Health,USA,to set up a Clinical Trial Unit (CTU) for multi-centric studies on HIV prevention in mother and child.

As per the national policy and National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) guidelines,the single-dose Nevirapine (NVP) remains a practical choice for prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child in areas with minimal medical resources,said CTU vice-president Dr Renu Bharadwaj. “Without treatment,around 15-30 per cent of the babies born to HIV positive women will become infected with HIV during pregnancy or delivery.”

Most HIV-infected pregnant women take at least one dose of NVP right before or during delivery and the baby also gets a dose of the drug. Researchers at BJMC,which has been one of the multi-centric sites for a trial on lowering the rate of HIV transmission to infants,are also raising concerns over the issue of drug resistance. “There is a likelihood of children being resistant to the drug and who could react better to a combination of drugs,” said Dr Nishi Suryavanshi,a scientist working with the project.

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A study has also been proposed as part of the International Maternal Paediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group with the mission to develop and evaluate a safe and cost-effective approach to the interruption of mother to infant transmission of HIV. “We want to enroll at least 21 HIV children who have not been exposed to any drug. They will be involved in the clinical trial after parents or guardians give their consent,” said Bharadwaj.

The researchers are reaching out to civic and private hospitals and NGOs apart from tapping rural doctors in their search for infants and children (6 months to 3 years),who are HIV positive and have not received any treatment. “We are appealing to paediatricians who treated sick babies and HIV-positive mothers who had not received any treatment,so that the children can be registered for the project,” said Bharadwaj.

AIDS vaccine trial: Phase 1 on
The National AIDS Research Institute,Pune,and the Tuberculosis Research Centre,Chennai,too had faced a huge challenge in enrolment of volunteers for the AIDS vaccine trial. “It is very difficult to enlist volunteers. But the process is under way and phase 1 of the trial has begun,” say top scientists at both the institutes.

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In Chennai,the TRC banked on Y R G Care centre to conduct meetings with the communities and get more volunteers. A total of 32 volunteers are required (16 each at NARI and TRC) for phase 1 of the trial. “We are nearing completion of enrolment,” the scientists said. The trial uses a DNA-based vaccine candidate ADVAX to prime the immune system.

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First published on: 17-06-2009 at 11:43:30 pm

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