Before 1994, between 25% and 35% of infants born to HIV-positive mothers became HIV positive themselves. But a landmark study from NICHD1 published that year showed that antiretroviral therapy (ART) could greatly reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. Today, babies born to HIV-positive mothers receive a course of ART perinatally (while they are still in the womb or shortly after birth). Most of these children do not contract HIV.
The Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS) network was established in 2005.
PHACS addresses two research questions around pediatric HIV:
- How safe is prophylactic (preventive) antiretroviral (ART) treatment in the long-term for babies who are exposed in the womb and shortly after birth?
- What are the long-term effects of HIV infection in adolescents and young adults who were infected at birth?
The goals of the PHACS network are:
- Gather data and information to better understand how HIV affects the health and development of youth born with HIV. This includes sexual maturation, pubertal development, and social development.
- Collect information about how safe antiretroviral (ART) drugs are in the long term when they are used during pregnancy and in newborns.
- Estimate the amount and type of antiretroviral (ART) drugs that HIV-infected pregnant women can take that will both be safe for the baby and prevent transmission of HIV to the baby, as recommended in the Public Health Service Guidelines.
- Continue to follow-up with youth born with HIV as they age into adulthood to gain a fuller understanding of the long-term effects of HIV.