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AIDS. 2019 Apr 1;33(5):885-893. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002139.

Long-term effects of unintended pregnancy on antiretroviral therapy outcomes among South African women living with HIV.

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Division of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, and.
Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology & Research, School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
ICAP, Mailman School of Public Health.
Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.



Unintended pregnancies are common among women living with HIV, but there are no data on their long-term impact on treatment outcomes. In a cohort of women initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy, we examined the association between the intendedness of the current pregnancy, measured antenatally, and elevated viral load up to 5 years postpartum.


Prospective study with enrolment at entry into antenatal care and follow-up at study visits separate from routine care.


At enrolment women completed the London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancy. Mixed effects models examined the impact of the intendedness of the pregnancy (planned versus each of unplanned or ambivalent, respectively) on viral load 50 or more copies/ml across postpartum study visits.


Overall, 459 women were followed for a median of 43 months postpartum, contributing 2535 viral load measures (median per woman: 6). Ambivalent and unplanned pregnancy were commonly reported (20 and 60%, respectively), and the proportion of women with elevated viral load increased over time (16% at 6 weeks to 43% by 36-60 months postpartum). Compared with those reporting a planned pregnancy, elevated viral load was more common among women reporting an unplanned pregnancy (odds ratio: 2.87; 95% confidence interval: 1.46-5.64), with a trend towards a higher odds among those reporting ambivalence (odds ratio: 2.19; 95% confidence interval: 0.97-4.82); associations persisted after adjustment for a wide range of demographic, clinical and psychosocial factors.


These novel data suggest that unplanned pregnancy may be a prevalent and persistent predictor of poor ART outcomes among women initiating ART during pregnancy.

[Available on 2020-04-01]

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