Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

New and emerging evidence on the use of ARVs for PMTCT

Consultation, 17-19 November 2008, Geneva, Switzerland

Mother and infant
AVECC/H. Vincent

In 2006, WHO's HIV/AIDS Department convened an expert consultation to review recent data and revise the 2004 guidelines on antiretroviral (ARV) use for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). The 2006 guidelines recommend the use of antiretroviral therapy for eligible pregnant women who need ARVs for their own health and for the remaining women, the use of more efficacious prophylactic regimens to prevent vertical transmission.

These guidelines were harmonized with the WHO recommendations on antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents published in 2006. In the same year, WHO's Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (CAH) convened a meeting to review evidence and programmatic experience on HIV and infant feeding, and updated recommendations aimed at promoting safer infant feeding to ensure improved HIV-free child survival.

Data emerging since the publication of the 2006 WHO recommendations on ARVs for PMTCT suggest that prolonged antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV-exposed infants and antiretroviral treatment of HIV-infected mothers throughout the breastfeeding period can substantially reduce the risk of post-natal HIV transmission.

For this reason, on 17-19 November 2008 in Geneva, WHO's HIV and CAH Departments convened a meeting of experts who contributed to the aforementioned three WHO consultations as well as investigators of recent and ongoing clinical trials, to review the latest evidence and consider whether revision to the existing recommendations is required.