The number of cases of mothers passing the AIDS virus to their newborns has leveled off to about 1,600 a year in the United States, but government researchers remain discouraged at the numbers.
Two-thirds of these, they noted, could have been prevented if their mothers had taken the drug AZT during pregnancy.
“What it really says to me is that there is a continuing problem with HIV infection in children,” said Dr. Susan F. Davis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
More than 15,000 babies were born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, between 1978 and 1993, Davis and her team reported in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Twelve thousand of those children were still alive at the beginning of 1994, all needing medical and social care, and many destined for foster care because their mothers will die of AIDS, Davis and her team said.
In 1993, about 6,530 HIV-infected women gave birth in the United States, and about 25 percent passed the disease to their babies, producing 1,630 HIV-infected newborns that year, the researchers said.
That’s fewer than in 1992 - when 1,750 infected infants were born. In 1991, 1,760 were born. In 1990, 1,690 were born. And in 1989, 1,590 were born.
The reason for the leveling off after 1989 is unknown.