In 1994, Edward M. Connor and colleagues published “Reduction of Maternal-Infant Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 with Zidovudine Treatment.” Their study summarized how to reduce the transfer of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, from pregnant women to their fetuses with Zidovudine, otherwise known as AZT. HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system by destroying white blood cells, a part of the body’s immune system. Fifteen to forty percent of infants born to HIV-positive mothers become infected during fetal development, labor and delivery, or breast-feeding. From April 1991 to December 1993, Connor and his colleagues researched HIV-positive pregnant women who took AZT, a drug that treats but does not cure an HIV infection. In their article, Conner and colleagues showed that AZT decreased the maternal-infant transmission of HIV and helped decrease infant mortality due to the viral infection.

In July 2006, scientist Pablo Barreiro and colleagues published “Reproduction Options for HIV-Serodiscordant Couples,” in which they recommended methods for human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, serodiscordant couples to procreate. An HIV-serodiscordant couple is one in which one partner is HIV-positive, meaning they carry HIV, and the other is HIV-negative, meaning they do not carry the virus. HIV is a virus that can spread by sexual contact and it attacks the immune system, causing a person with the virus to have weakened responses to illnesses. Because HIV can transfer from a pregnant woman to a fetus, fetuses conceived in an HIV-serodiscordant relationship could also be HIV-positive. The article “Reproduction Options for HIV-Serodiscordant Couples” offers HIV-serodiscordant couples options on how to procreate without passing HIV on to each other or their offspring.

In 1964, Jerome Horwitz synthesized the drug zidovudine, commonly abbreviated ZDV, otherwise known as azidothymidine, or AZT, at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan. Horwitz and his colleagues originally developed zidovudine to treat cancers caused by retroviruses. In 1983, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine recipients Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier discovered a new retrovirus, the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. HIV weakens the immune system and can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus in utero, or in the womb. In 1984, scientist Marty St. Clair and her team determined that zidovudine could help treat HIV. Zidovudine was the first medicine discovered to help treat HIV and prevent the transmission of HIV from affected pregnant women to fetuses in the womb by blocking the virus from passing through the placenta.

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