Many women infected by HIV had been told that becoming pregnant might not be wise because it was seen as a risk for transmission of the virus to the unborn child. A study to be published in the October 1st issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases has found that this warning to women seeking to have a child may not be quite as accurate as once thought. In a news release issued by the Journal of Infectious Diseases a new study revealed that the old fears of speeding up the progression of AIDS from HIV in women who are using HAART or highly active antiretroviral therapy, are quite possibly unfounded. The study reveals that pregnancy may actually slow the progression of the disease.
It had been originally thought that the risk of transmitting the virus to an unborn child was 25%. It has been discovered that the use of HAART reduces the risk of HIV transmission reduces the risk to the newborn to 1%. The effects of pregnancy on an HIV-infected woman remains unknown.
Dr. Timothy R. Sterling and fellow colleagues at Vanderbilt University preformed an observational study of HIV-infected women between 1997-2004. He observed the progression of the disease that was defined by experiencing an AIDS-defining event such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, Pneumocystis cannii pneumonia or Candida fungal infections of the esophagus or death. Out of the 759 women that were studied 71% or 540 were receiving HAART. 18 percent of the women or 139 studied, had 1 or more pregnancies during the study period.
Based on study results that had been conducted before the use of HAART, researchers had expected that they would find no differences in the pregnant or the non-pregnant women. Sterling and his fellow researchers found that of the women who actually became pregnant, the risk became significantly lower from an HIV disease progression and that the women were actually healthier than the women who hadn’t become pregnant at all. The women also seemed to experience a lower risk of disease immediately before or right after giving birth. The results could be a combination of both being pregnant and the use of HAART.
Women who became pregnant multiple times during the study and follow-up seemed to experience a decrease in the progression of the disease. Pregnancy is associated with a complex set of immunological changes during the gestational period, possibly providing an additional benefit to the Mother’s health.
Kathryn Anastos MD. of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine emphasized that they do not completely understand this complexity. Dr. Anastos suggests that this information may be of significance to women of low resource-limited communities. These women generally tend to bear more children. Anastos said, “Women can now have greater confidence that in addition to protecting their future babies from (mother-to-child transmission of HIV) with HAART their own health should not be compromised by a pregnancy”. For more information about HIV and pregnancy link to www.hivma.org
Sources used in this article are as follow: http://www.idsociety.org/Content.aspx?id=6928