Does Pregnancy Influence the Course of HIV Infection?: Evidence from Two Large Swiss Cohort Studies

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Abstract

The question whether the natural history of HIV infection in women is affected by pregnancy has not so far been convincingly answered. We used prospective cohort data to compare pregnant and nonpregnant HIV-infected women during followup within the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) and the Swiss Collaborative HIV and Pregnancy Study (SCHPS). Pregnant women were eligible if a CD4 cell count had been made before conception had taken place. Additional inclusion criteria were a pregnancy completed to delivery during follow-up and an observation period of at least 6 months after delivery. Thirty-two women who fulfilled these criteria were compared with 416 controls, matched for age and CD4 cell count at entry, who had not been pregnant during follow-up. Mean follow-up time was 4.8 years for pregnant women and 3.6 years for controls. The rate of any AIDS-defining event was higher in pregnant women (rate ratio [RR] from Cox regression, 1.92; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80-4.64) but this did not reach statistical significance (p = .15). A statistically significant difference (p = .008) emerged only for one AIDS-defining event, recurrent bacterial pneumonia (RR, 7.98; 95% CI, 1.73-36.8). The rate of death was similar in the two groups (RR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.48-2.72; p = .8). Our results thus indicate that, after taking CD4 cell counts before conception into account, acceleration of disease progression is inconsistent among HIV-infected women who become pregnant during follow-up.

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