The first South African AIDS Conference ended in Durban yesterday (August 6) with an emergency plenary session on the use of nevirapine—the treatment shown in a Ugandan study to halve the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies at childbirth—and with what was effectively a petition to continue its use in the country.

Last week, the country's Medicines Control Council (MCC) announced it would deregister the drug within 3 months unless the manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim, could provide better information on its effectiveness.

The petition—officially described as a "letter"—was signed by groups and individuals from 36 countries and was addressed to MCC Registrar Precious Matsoso. It said, "As researchers, health professionals, advocates and organizations working to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS throughout the world, we are writing to express our strong support for proven interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV, including the use of nevirapine…

"The efficacy and safety of...

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