AIDS activists protested South Africa’s AIDS policy at South Africa’s first AIDS conference that began this weekend. According to the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), South Africa’s drug regulatory body is considering de-registering the use of a World Health Organization backed drug, Nevaripine, which prevents the HIV/AIDS virus from being passed from mother to child due to safety concerns over the drug.
Nevaripine has been distributed free to pregnant women since March 2002 after activists won a three-year legal battle against the government, the New Scientist reports. According to IRIN, one dose of the drug at the onset of labor and a dose to the newborn within 72 hours after birth has been shown to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child by 50 percent.
South Africa, with 4.7 million people infected with HIV, has the highest AIDS caseload in the world.