Valacyclovir Suppressive Therapy Reduces Plasma and Breast Milk HIV-1 RNA Levels During Pregnancy and Postpartum: A Randomized Trial


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Abstract

Background. The effect of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) suppression on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA in the context of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) interventions is unknown.Methods. Between April 2008 and August 2010, we conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of twice daily 500 mg valacyclovir or placebo beginning at 34 weeks gestation in 148 HIV-1/HSV-2 coinfected pregnant Kenyan women ineligible for highly active antiretroviral therapy (CD4 > 250 cells/mm3). Women received zidovudine and single dose nevirapine for PMTCT and were followed until 12 months postpartum.Results. Mean baseline plasma HIV-1 RNA was 3.88 log10 copies/mL. Mean plasma HIV-1 was lower during pregnancy (−.56 log10 copies/mL; 95% confidence interval [CI], −.77 to −.34) and after 6 weeks postpartum (−.51 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, −.73 to −.30) in the valacyclovir arm than the placebo arm. Valacyclovir reduced breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection at 6 and 14 weeks postpartum compared with placebo (30% lower, P = .04; 46% lower, P = .01, respectively), but not after 14 weeks. Cervical HIV-1 RNA detection was similar between arms (P = .91).Conclusions. Valacyclovir significantly decreased early breast milk and plasma HIV-1 RNA among women receiving PMTCT.Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00530777.

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