Nevirapine misinformation: will it kill?
Three Associated Press (AP) reports in mid-December 2004 created widespread doubts about nevirapine (NVP), the critically important drug that can prevent HIV in many of the 1,800 babies infected every day by their mothers in childbirth. The media allegations that circulated around the world grew out of a bitter personal and personnel dispute between two employees at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) about the conduct of the HIVNET 012 trial in Uganda from 1997 to 1999. No new information was released about NVP; indeed, following publication of the AP reports, physicians know that NVP still has the same risks and benefits as before. But many experts fear that the emotions stirred by the misinformation disseminated worldwide will result in many HIV-positive mothers receiving no treatment and unnecessarily infecting their children with HIV. This article offers background that has been missing in many news reports.