Bug nets, drug zap malaria 97 percent

Staff Writers | 28 Feb 2007
United Press International

African children infected with the virus that causes AIDS reduce their risk of malaria if they take antibiotics and sleep under mosquito nets.

Incredibly, researchers reported Tuesday a 97-percent reduction in bouts of malaria among the children with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), compared with healthy children who went untreated.

In a report at the 14th annual Retrovirus Conference, Anne Gasasira, an epidemiologist at Makerere University Medical School in Kampala, Uganda, said 300 HIV-infected children were treated with cotrimoxazole (Bactrim) and insecticide-treated sleeping nets and then compared with 561 healthy children.

Bactrim is routinely provided to HIV-infected children in Uganda and other areas where malaria is prevalent.

After one year -- from October 2005 to September 2006 -- there were 3.4 per 100 cases of malaria among the HIV-infected children, compared with 1.1 cases of malaria for each child who was not given antibiotics or the nets.

"That represents a dramatic 97 percent reduction," Gasasira said. When the clinical trial safety monitoring committee recognized the vast difference in outcomes, healthy children were also given nets, she said.

The study was funded by the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), she said.