Volume 4 Number 7 August/September 2003

This double issue of HTB includes i-Base coverage from three scientific meetings – all of which carried important studies relating to current clinical care – and all of which have now made the abstracts from these meeting available as pdf files that can be downloaded over the internet. Links to these files are included in the relevant reports and in the On the Web section.

Although this coverage dominated journal reviews and other news in this issue, access issues continue to make the biggest news.

At the International AIDS Society (IAS) meeting, results from the SIMBA study showed the potential to virtually eliminate post-natal transmission from breastfeeding by use of prophylaxis 3TC or nevirapine syrup being given to the baby. Other news, from both the resistance and IAS meetings, showed severe limitations of the use of single-dose nevirapine to prevent mother to child transmission.

Worryingly, the regulatory authorities in South Africa have decided to deregister nevirapine for MTCT – although this ruling has yet to be confirmed. On the face of it this move should be welcomed because single dose nevirapine is known to be less effective than other interventions and carries risk of resistance to mothers, however the regulatory authorities are taking a dangerous step by deregistering nevirapine for this indication without first introducing alternative – and better – programmes.

As we went to press, and only a few days after the South African Health Minister had asserted in a BBC radio interview that a diet of garlic and African potatoes was still more important to the health of HIV-positive people than HIV treatment – the South African government announced that it would make anti-retroviral drugs available for its citizens.

Cape Times said finally a ‘yes’ from the governments ‘Dr No’.

As the Treatment Action Group writes in its press release: “There is cause for celebration and optimism.”

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.