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NPR Examines New Study Looking At Risks, Benefits Of HIV Treatment Linked To Possible Fatal Birth Defects

NPR: A Promising Anti-HIV Drug Poses A Dilemma
“…[A new study published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine] estimated what could happen if millions of poor HIV-positive African women of child-bearing age were given the new, more effective drug [that in a separate study was associated with an increased risk of fatal birth defects among babies born to women taking the drug when they conceived]. How many babies might be harmed? On the other hand, if the more effective drug were withheld, how many adult women would suffer health consequences? It has become a complicated equation, calling attention to a larger problem: How do very poor countries balance the health of women with the health of the babies they might bear? … What [the researchers] found were difficult trade-offs. The newer drug would save thousands of women’s lives and halt the spread of HIV to tens of thousands people — but at the cost of fatal brain defects in a few thousand infants…” (Brink, 4/19).