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AIDS Rev. 2011 Oct-Dec;13(4):198-213.

Current treatment strategies, complications and considerations for the use of HIV antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Federal University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Brazil.


The global prevalence of HIV infection in the female population presents a significant healthcare burden in terms of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of the disease. This review aims to discuss current trends and treatment guidelines for the use of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy and associated complications in this population. Historically, antiretroviral monotherapy with zidovudine was commonly used for preventing MTCT, and monotherapy with single-dose nevirapine is still used for prevention in resource-limited settings. Evidence suggests that combination therapy with HAART is a more effective treatment option than monotherapy when managing HIV in pregnant women. Current treatment guidelines recommend the use of HAART with a protease inhibitor (PI) or a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) plus two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) as first-line therapy for the management of HIV infection in pregnant women and for preventing MTCT. Complications associated with the use of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy should be taken into consideration when selecting a new antiretroviral regimen, or when continuing certain antiretroviral regimens in HIV-infected women who become pregnant while on therapy. NNRTI have been associated with severe and sometimes fatal hepatoxicity in some pregnant women and potentially teratogenic side effects in the fetus, and their use raises concerns regarding the development of drug- and class-resistant mutations. PI-based HAART has been associated with an increased risk of adverse effects such as premature delivery, low birth weight, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance, and lipodystrophy. Despite this, initiating antiretroviral therapy with a PI plus two NRTI may become the preferred treatment option in pregnant women. Many of the side effects associated with PI were more prevalent when older PI and PI-based regimens that included those in combination with thymidine analog NRTI were used. An individual's history and baseline clinical and laboratory parameters should also be taken into consideration when choosing the most appropriate antiretroviral regimen during pregnancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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