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:
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.