The U.S. Public Health Service has established a task force to explore the medical and policy implications of the recently announced findings of a National Institutes of Health clinical trial that tested the effectiveness of AZT in preventing transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from pregnant women to their babies.
Preliminary findings from randomized, blind clinical trials showed a 67.5 percent effectiveness rate in blocking HIV transmission to newborn infants through the use of AZT, with little apparent adverse effect on the women or on the progression of their disease.
Perinatal transmission is responsible for the majority of HIV infections in children in the United States and throughout the world.
The challenge of the task force will be to develop a rational approach in translating the results of this clinical trial into appropriate policy and practices," said Dr. Philip R. Lee, HHS assistant secretary for health and director of the U.S. Public Health Service. "Under the leadership of the National Institutes of Health, the efforts of the task force will address critical questions regarding treatment, testing, monitoring and resource needs, which are raised as a result of this study. The task force has begun moving expeditiously because of the urgency of these issues for the community and for the health care providers."
The task force members are:
Chairwoman Lynne Mofenson, M.D., associate chief of the pediatric, adolescent and maternal AIDS branch, Center for Research for Mothers and Children, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH.
James Balsley, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the pediatric medicine branch of the Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH.
Martha Rogers, M.D., chief of the epidemiology branch of the Division of AIDS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Helene D. Gayle, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the HIV/AIDS division, CDC.
David Feigal, M.D., director of the anti-viral drug product division, Food and Drug Administration.
Patricia S. Fleming, special assistant to the secretary, HHS.
Frances Page, RN, MN, public health adviser, Office of National AIDS Policy.
Patricia Salomon, M.D., associate director for clinical affairs, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration.
David Lanier, M.D., health policy analyst, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research.
The task force will also make use of outside experts, including academic researchers, clinicians, HIV-infected women, representatives of professional societies, state and local public health officials and ethicists.