Most women conceiving while on ARVs will have poor pregnancy outcomes – study

By Gatonye Gathura

Most women conceiving while on HIV drugs will have either  preterm births, stillbirths, spontaneous abortions or ectopic pregnancies, shows a landmark study published today.

Only one in three pregnant women using HIV drugs had a full term delivery. The majority, over 70 per cent had poor pregnancy outcomes.

“We were surprised at the high proportion of adverse pregnancy outcomes,” says a study involving Kenya Medical Research Institute, the United States Army Medical Research Directorate-Kenya and several other international institutions.

The study which collected data from Kenya and other countries from Africa, Asia, Central and South America, was published today in the journal Plos One.

The authors say while ARVs have been shown to protect against mother-to- child HIV transmission, they may also be responsible for poor birth outcomes.

Starting in 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommended that all pregnant HIV-infected women commence ARVs in pregnancy.

This and additional recommendation for all persons with HIV to be put on ARVs on testing positive has seen many women conceive while on the medicines.

In this study only 30 per cent of women who became pregnant delivered a live-born infant at term.

Approximately half of the live-born infants were preterm. The proportion of pregnancies that ended in a stillbirth was four per cent while 20 per cent of pregnancies ended in a spontaneous abortion.

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