HIV-Positive Women Who Become Pregnant Less Likely To Develop AIDS

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HIV-positive women who become pregnant are less likely to developAIDS or die of AIDS-related causes than HIV-positive women who do notbecome pregnant, according to a study published in the Oct. 1 issue ofthe Journal of Infectious Diseases, VOA News reports (De Capua, VOA News, 9/19).

For the study, Timothy Sterling of Vanderbilt Universityand colleagues examined 759 HIV-positive women from 1997 to 2004 todetermine how pregnancy affects HIV progression. Of the 759 women, 540received highly active antiretroviral therapy, and 139 had at least onepregnancy during the study. The researchers found that the women whobecame pregnant had a lower risk of HIV progression both before andafter pregnancy (ANI/, 9/20).


Sterlingsaid it is unclear why the women who became pregnant were less likelyto progress to AIDS but added that they overall were healthier than thewomen who did not become pregnant. Women who became pregnant had lowerHIV viral loads, were younger and were more likely to receive treatmentthan those who did not become pregnant, Sterling said. The researchersadjusted for such factors and found that "women who became pregnantwere still less likely to progress to AIDS or death," he said. Previousstudies found either a slight increased risk or no risk of HIVprogression among HIV-positive women who became pregnant, VOA News reports.

Sterlingsaid more research is necessary to determine why women who becomepregnant are less likely to develop AIDS. He added that pregnant womenmight be "highly motivated" to receive treatment to preventmother-to-child HIV transmission. "Perhaps that additional motivationfacilitated them in doing better," Sterling said, adding that thepregnant women in the study received more intensive care, visited theclinic more frequently and were more likely to receive dietarysupplements.

Related Editorial

Kathryn Anastos of Montefiore Medical Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in an accompanying JID editorialwrites that the study's findings are "extremely important" forHIV-positive women in "higher-resource settings and perhaps for womenin lower-resource settings." She adds, "Women can now have greaterconfidence that, in addition to protecting their children frommother-to-child transmission with antiretroviral drugs, their ownhealth will not be compromised by pregnancy" (VOA News, 9/19).

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