Ugandan and American Aids researchers have begun the first ever clinical trial of a vaccine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV through breast-feeding which, if successful, could prevent at least 25,000 infections in new-borns in East Africa alone.
In the first phase of the trials the researchers will be testing whether the vaccine, formally known as ALVAC-HIV, is safe for use in children, following which they will study whether it can stop the transmission of the Aids virus to a suckling baby through breastmilk. Preliminary results are expected in mid-2007.
According to the UNAids, breast-feeding by HIV-positive mothers accounts for more than a third of all infections in new-borns, translating to about 1,800 children each day around the world. In Uganda alone, at least 8,000 of the country's 22,000 infections in children each year occur as a result of breast-feeding.