Safety and Efficacy of Initiating Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in an Integrated Antenatal and HIV Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa

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To describe the safety and efficacy of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in pregnant women treated in an integrated antiretroviral antenatal clinic (ANC ARV).


A retrospective analysis was performed on patients attending the ANC ARV from August 2004 through February 2007.


Data were collected on 689 treatment-naive pregnant women initiated on HAART. The mean age was 29.2 years. The mean baseline CD4+ count was 154 cells per microliter, and mean baseline HIV viral load was 101,561 copies per milliliter. Tuberculosis was the most prevalent presenting opportunistic infection (7.7%). Stavudine, lamivudine, and nevirapine were initiated in 82% of women with the most frequent adverse drug reaction being nevirapine-associated skin rash (3.5%). Mean gestational age at HAART initiation was 27 weeks. Among women with follow-up data, 80% gained 50 or more CD4 cells per microliter and 80.5% achieved viral suppression to <1000 copies per milliliter. Of 302 mother-infant pairs who completed postnatal follow-up, the HIV transmission rate was 5%. In women who received more than 7 weeks of HAART during pregnancy, transmission was 0.3%.


Within the ANC ARV program, initiating pregnant women on HAART was feasible, safe, and effective. Advanced gestational age at treatment initiation and loss to follow-up emerge as important challenges in this population.

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