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New Consumer Materials Aid in the Effort to Reduce
the Number of Babies Born with HIV
Press Release Date: December 1, 1995
HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Philip R. Lee, M.D., today
released new public information materials that will help pregnant
women who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) make
decisions about medical interventions that can reduce mother to
child (perinatal) transmission of HIV, the virus that causes
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
In the United States alone, about 7,000 infants are born each
to HIV-positive women. As many as 2,000 of these infants will
acquire the virus in utero, during childbirth or through
breastfeeding. HIV/AIDS is the seventh leading cause of death in
children 1-4 years of age and the fourth leading cause of death
among women 25-44 years of age.
The new consumer information translates into lay language the
results of a National Institutes of Health clinical trial known
the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) 076, which showed that use
the antiretroviral drug zidovudine, commonly known as
or AZT, reduced the rate of perinatal transmission of HIV by
The women in the study either were given AZT, or a placebo,
beginning between 14 and 34 weeks gestation and continuing for
remainder of the pregnancy and delivery. For the first six weeks
life, AZT was also given to the babies of the women who received
drug. For children of women who did take AZT, the rate of
transmission fell from one in four to one in twelve.
"The Clinton Administration is taking action to get this
into the hands of as many pregnant women with HIV as possible,
with what we know about the risks and benefits of AZT use during
pregnancy," said Lee.
To that end, a public information campaign will target the
population at greatest risk with a consumer brochure, posters,
flyers, videotapes and audiotapes in English and Spanish; the
brochure also is available in Haitian Creole.
The multi-media educational materials were developed by an
Interagency Task Force within the Department of Health and Human
Services, in collaboration with the Columbia University School of
Public Health. The information in these materials is presented in
straightforward and objective manner, to help women weigh the
and benefits of AZT therapy during pregnancy. To put a real-life
face on the decision-making process, the materials include
of women who have had to make this decision.
The educational materials will be distributed through
federally-funded facilities, such as clinics and community health
addition, HHS' Health Care Financing Administration today
special joint efforts with four states to reach pregnant women
Information also can be obtained by calling the HIV/AIDS
Information Service (ATIS), toll free, at 800-448-0440 or
800-243-7012 (TTY service for the deaf). Public service
English and Spanish also will run on radio stations targeted to
African-American and Hispanic audiences in the 40 cities with the
highest prevalence of HIV infection in women, to enhance their
access to this information.
"We encourage pregnant women who have HIV to get early prenatal
care, talk to a health care provider, and get the facts about
said Lee. "Ultimately, it is up to her to make an informed
about what is best for herself and her baby."
For additional information contact, AHCPR Public Affairs: Karen Migdail, (301) 427-1855 ; or Salina Prasad, (301) 427-1864.