3 February 2003

Drug treatment to prevent HIV transmission

The German company Boehringer Ingelheim is to make available in Mozambique, free of charge, the anti- retroviral drug Nevirapine, which can prevent the vertical transmission of the HIV virus from mother to baby.

The German company made the offer two years ago to all developing countries, including Mozambique. However, one of the pre-requisites for introducing treatment with nevirapine is the creation of appropriate conditions in the country's hospitals. They must be equipped to administer this drug, and to inform pregnant women and their families of the advantages of using it.

In the initial phase, the drug will be made available in Beira central hospital, in Sofala province, and in the Manica provincial hospital in the city of Chimoio. Manica and Sofala are two of the provinces with the highest rates of HIV infection.

Somewhat later, nevirapine will also be administered in the provincial hospital in Gaza, in the south of the province. HIV infection has been rising alarmingly in Gaza, and this is believed to be due to the large number of Gaza men who migrate to work on the mines and farms of South Africa.

The drug has been shown to cut by half the number of babies who are infected by their HIV-positive mothers. It thus reduces dramatically the chances of babies falling ill with AIDS. (AIM)

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