Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Aids drug for African children
Researchers say hundreds of thousands of children will benefit
By Pallab Ghosh, BBC Science Correspondent
Researchers in the United States and Uganda have identified a cheap and effective drug which could control the spread of Aids.
The discovery is a ray of hope for health workers involved in the life-or-death battle against Aids - especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate.
Every day, 1,800 babies are born in developing countries with HIV - the virus that can result in Aids - passed on by their mothers.
In the hardest-hit parts of sub-Saharan Africa, up to one-third of pregnant women have HIV, and one-third of their children will be born with the virus.
Dr Brookes Jackson, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University in the USA, says the findings are important.
"This is the first regime that will be able to be implemented in a developing country because of its very low cost and its safety," says Dr Jackson, who works in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
But she says that the new drug will have "a profound impact" on HIV infection in children.
Dr Philippa Musoke of Uganda's Makerere University says there is great cultural pressure on women to have children - "a woman is not complete if she does not have children," she says.
The anti-Aids combination drug, AZT, is more effective if used over a longer period, but costs more than $200 for a short course.
But Nevirapine is the best hope for many African nations - and it could spare the next generation from the horrors of HIV.