AZT is Found to Protect Newborns from HIV

HRSA Launches Massive Effort to Disseminate Findings

Findings from the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) 076 demonstrated that with a particular regimen of AZT (zidovudine), the incidence of perinatal HIV transmission plummeted from 22.6 to 7.6 percent. This finding may represent the most significant victory in the prevention of HIV/AIDS since the discovery that HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids.

In response to ACTG 076, the U.S. Public Health Service convened a workshop June 6-7, 1994, in Bethesda, Maryland. Recommendations for the use of the regimen in women and infants were developed and published in August 1994.

The following year, in 1995, HRSA issued a major program advisory entitled “Use of Zidovudine to Reduce Perinatal HIV Transmission in HRSA Funded Programs,” which detailed strategies for carrying out Public Health Service recommendations.

HRSA Program Advisory Has Immediate Impact

“HRSA’s program advisory regarding reduction in perinatal HIV transmission by use of zidovudine during pregnancy and delivery and in the postnatal period ensured that PHS recommendations were rapidly disseminated to HRSA-funded grantees and clinical providers. During the subsequent 2 years, as the PHS recommendations were adopted by HRSA-funded and other clinical care givers, a substantial decrease in mother-to-child transmission rates was documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments.” Bowen SG. Personal Communication. January 23, 2007.

—G. Stephen Bowen,
The Bureau of Health Resources Development, HRSA
at the time of ACTG 076