A Prospective Study of the Effect of Pregnancy on CD4 Counts and Plasma HIV-1 RNA Concentrations of Antiretroviral-Naive HIV-1-Infected Women
In HIV-1-infected women, CD4 count declines occur during pregnancy, which has been attributed to hemodilution. However, for women who have not initiated antiretroviral therapy, it is unclear if CD4 declines are sustained beyond pregnancy and accompanied by increased viral levels, which could indicate an effect of pregnancy on accelerating HIV-1 disease progression.
In a prospective study among 2269 HIV-1-infected antiretroviral therapy-naive women from 7 African countries, we examined the effect of pregnancy on HIV-1 disease progression. We used linear mixed models to compare CD4 counts and plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations between pregnant, postpartum, and nonpregnant periods.
Women contributed 3270 person-years of follow-up, during which time 476 women became pregnant. In adjusted analysis, CD4 counts were an average of 56 (95% confidence interval: 39 to 73) cells/mm lower during pregnant compared with nonpregnant periods and 70 (95% confidence interval: 53 to 88) cells/mm lower during pregnant compared with postpartum periods; these results were consistent when restricted to the subgroup of women who became pregnant. Plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations were not different between pregnant and nonpregnant periods (P = 0.9) or pregnant and postpartum periods (P = 0.3). Neither CD4 counts nor plasma HIV-1 RNA levels were significantly different in postpartum compared with nonpregnant periods.
CD4 count declines among HIV-1-infected women during pregnancy are temporary and not sustained in postpartum periods. Pregnancy does not have a short-term impact on plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations.
Available from: Haneefa T Saleem
- "With expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), many are living longer and healthier lives and desire children (Mmbaga, Leyna, Ezekiel, & Kakoko, 2013; Nattabi, Li, Thompson, Orach, & Earnest, 2009). The impact of pregnancy on women living with HIV is not yet fully understood , but evidence suggests that pregnancy has no sustained effect on HIV disease progression (Heffron et al., 2014) or immunological and virological outcomes (Mayanja et al., 2012). Furthermore, data from Sub- Saharan Africa show that HIV-positive women continue to become pregnant after being diagnosed with HIV (Kaida et al., 2013; Myer et al., 2010; Schwartz et al., 2012). "
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ABSTRACT: People living with HIV (PLHIV) continue to have children after being diagnosed with HIV, yet little research attention has been paid to actual lived childbearing experiences of PLHIV post-HIV diagnosis. We interviewed 10 HIV-positive women and 11 HIV-positive men in Iringa, Tanzania, about their experiences of conceiving and having children after being diagnosed with HIV. We adopted an approach to data analysis based on grounded theory and phenomenology. Participants' experiences were shaped by social and institutional factors. Some participants reported pressures to bear children by partners and relatives, whereas others reported negative reactions from others concerning their pregnancies. Most participants had not discussed having children with a provider before attempting to conceive. Some reported being reprimanded by health providers for getting pregnant without seeking their advice. Consideration of support systems and challenges surrounding the childbearing experiences of PLHIV can help inform reproductive health interventions for those who desire children.
Available from: James Mcintyre
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ABSTRACT: Plasma HIV viral load (VL) is the principle determinant of mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT), yet there are few data on VL in populations of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. We examined the distribution and determinants of VL in HIV-positive women seeking antenatal care (ANC) in Cape Town, South Africa.
Consecutive HIV-positive pregnant women making their first antenatal clinic visit were recruited into a cross-sectional study of viraemia in pregnancy, including a brief questionnaire and specimens for VL testing and CD4 cell enumeration.
Overall 5551 pregnant women sought ANC during the study period, of whom 1839 (33%) were HIV positive and 1521 (85%) were included. Approximately two-thirds of HIV-positive women in the sample (n=947) were not on antiretrovirals at the time of the first ANC visit, and the remainder (38%, n=574) had initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART) prior to conception. For women not on ART, the median VL was 3.98 log10 copies/mL; in this group, the sensitivity of CD4 cell counts ≤350 cells/µL in detecting VL>10,000 copies/mL was 64% and this increased to 78% with a CD4 threshold of ≤500 cells/µL. Among women on ART, 78% had VL<50 copies/mL and 13% had VL >1000 copies/mL at the time of their ANC visit.
VL >10,000 copies/mL was commonly observed in women not on ART with CD4 cell counts >350 cells/µL, suggesting that CD4 cell counts may not be adequately sensitive in identifying women at greatest risk of MTCT. A large proportion of women entering ANC initiated ART before conception, and in this group more than 10% had VL>1000 copies/mL despite ART use. VL monitoring during pregnancy may help to identify pregnancies that require additional clinical attention to minimize MTCT risk and improve maternal and child health outcomes.
Available from: Susannah Mayhew
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ABSTRACT: Enabling women living with HIV to effectively plan whether and when to become pregnant is an essential right; effective prevention of unintended pregnancies is also critical to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality as well as vertical transmission of HIV. The objective of this study is to examine the use of family planning (FP) services by HIV-positive and HIV-negative women in Kenya and their ability to achieve their fertility desires.
Data are derived from a random sample of women seeking family planning services in public health facilities in Kenya who had declared their HIV status (1887 at baseline and 1224 at endline) and who participated in a longitudinal study (the INTEGRA Initiative) that measured the benefits/costs of integrating HIV and sexual/reproductive health services in public health facilities. The dependent variables were FP use in the last 12 months and fertility desires (whether a woman wants more children or not). The key independent variable was HIV status (positive and negative). Descriptive statistics and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used to describe the women's characteristics and to examine the relationship between FP use, fertility desires and HIV status.
At baseline, 13 % of the women sampled were HIV-positive. A slightly higher proportion of HIV-positive women were significantly associated with the use of FP in the last 12 months and dual use of FP compared to HIV-negative women. Regardless of HIV status, short-acting contraceptives were the most commonly used FP methods. A higher proportion of HIV-positive women were more likely to be associated with unintended (both mistimed and unwanted) pregnancies and a desire not to have more children. After adjusting for confounding factors, the multivariate results showed that HIV-positive women were significantly more likely to be associated with dual use of FP (OR = 3.2; p < 0.05). Type of health facility, marital status and household wealth status were factors associated with FP use. Factors associated with fertility desires were age, education level and household wealth status.
The findings highlight important gaps related to utilization of FP among WLHIV. Despite having a greater likelihood of reported use of FP, HIV-positive women were more likely to have had an unintended pregnancy compared to HIV-negative women. This calls for need to strengthen family planning services for WLHIV to ensure they have better access to a wide range of FP methods. There is need to encourage the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy and prevention of vertical transmission of HIV. However, such policies should be based on respect for women's right to informed reproductive choice in the context of HIV/AIDS.
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