Researchers found that "the complex set of immunologic changes," which takes place when a woman is pregnant may have a positive impact on combination drug therapy.
Some of the studies performed previously stated that there is a higher risk of HIV progression to AIDS and death among pregnant women. However, those studies took place before the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART). The latter represents drug "cocktails" that have considerably reduced death rate as well as progression rate among those infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The study performed by Vanderbilt researchers included 759 women, who were treated at Nashville's Comprehensive Care Center, in the period between 1997 and 2004. More than 500 patients received HAART. This includes 119 of the 139 women who were at least once pregnant during the period of the research.
When the researches performed statistical modeling methods, in order to adjust for differences between women, including such differences as age, health, as well as response to therapy, they discovered that pregnant women showed better results.
According to Timothy Sterling, M.D., the senior author of the research and associate professor of Medicine, those women who, throughout the study, got pregnant more than once, were more likely to have a lower risk of HIV progression than women who became pregnant once.
However, Sterling outlined that still more research on this is required. Women who became pregnant were healthier because they received intensive care, including frequent visits to their doctor, case managers, as well as nutritional counselors. The study’s senior author added that such efforts should be made for everyone, not only pregnant women, but also to women who have not become pregnant and men infected with the virus.
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