New study offers hope for reducing malaria in pregnant women living with HIV

According to the results of MAMAH – a clinical study funded by EDCTP and coordinated by ISGlobal, an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation – a preventive treatment using DHA PPQ during pregnancy is a safe, effective strategy. The study was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases and could protect the health of approximately one million pregnant women suffering from a double infection.

The vulnerability of pregnant women to malaria is greater. Pregnant women in malaria-endemic regions are recommended to receive preventive treatment based on SP and Sulphadoxine (IPTp). These drugs are not compatible with co-trimoxazole, an antibiotic that is given to HIV patients to prevent bacterial infection.

Clara Menendez, Director of ISGlobal’s Maternal, Child, and Reproductive Health Initiative, and Raquel Gonzalez, ISGlobal researcher, and technical coordinator for the MAMAH Project, explain that “this means that the most vulnerable population to malaria infection and its consequences, namely the pregnant women with HIV, are the least protected.”

The project aimed to assess the safety and effectiveness of other drugs, dihydroartemisinin (DHA) and piperaquine(PPQ), to prevent malaria in pregnant women with HIV. The trial was conducted in Gabon and Mozambique by the research team with over 600 pregnant women who were taking CTX along with antiretroviral therapy for HIV. The pregnant women were divided into two groups: one group was given DHA-PPQ, and the other received a placebo.

Reduced risk of malaria infection

The DHA-PPQ treatment group showed a significant reduction in clinical malaria during pregnancy. This was almost eight times less than the placebo group. DHA-PPQ showed effectiveness in women receiving different antiretroviral medications. DHA-PPQ did not cause any serious side effects and did not affect the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

We demonstrate that DHA-PPQ preventive treatment is effective in settings with low malaria transmission. This strategy could improve the health and well-being of thousands of women, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately one million HIV-positive pregnant women are infected by malaria every year.

Drug Discovery – Second Edition eBook – NEW EDITION IS OUT! Compilation from the best interviews, articles, and news of the past year. Download the latest version. Montserrat Blzquez-Domingo is the Senior Project Officer for EDCTP. She congratulates the MAMAH team for these important research results, especially in promoting better health among pregnant women with HIV living in malaria-endemic regions. This study highlights the importance of collaborative research, which EDCTP supports. It also shows our focus on infectious diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa and pregnant women who are often excluded from clinical trials.

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