To determine individual and dyadic factors associated with effective contraceptive use among HIV-infected women accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) in rural Uganda.
HIV-infected women enrolled in the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes cohort completed questionnaires (detailing socio-behavioral characteristics, sexual and reproductive history, contraceptive use, fertility desires), and phlebotomy (October 2011–March 2013). We describe prevalence of effective contraceptive use (i.e., consistent condom use, and/or oral contraceptives, injectable hormonal contraception, intrauterine device, female sterilization) in the previous six months among sexually active, non-pregnant women (18–40 years). We assessed covariates of contraceptive use using multivariable logistic regression.
362 women (median values: age 30 years, CD4 count 397 cells/mm3, 4.0 years since ART initiation) were included. Among 284 sexually active women, 50% did not desire a(nother) child and 51% had a sero-concordant partner. 45% (n=127) reported effective contraceptive use of whom, 57% (n=72) used condoms, 42% (n=53) injectables, 12% (n=15) oral contraceptives, and 11% (n=14) other effective methods. Dual contraception was reported by 6% (n=8). Only ‘partnership fertility desire’ was independently associated with contraceptive use; women who reported neither partner desired a child had significantly increased odds of contraceptive use (aOR: 2.40, 95% CI: 1.07–5.35) compared with women in partnerships where at least one partner desired a child.
Less than half of sexually active HIV-infected women accessing ART used effective contraception, of which 44% (n=56) relied exclusively on male condoms, highlighting a continued need to expand access to a wider range of longer acting female-controlled contraceptive methods. Association with partnership fertility desire underscores the need to include men in reproductive health programming.
HIV; antiretroviral therapy; family planning; contraceptive use; Uganda
Background. We explored healthcare provider perspectives and practices regarding safer conception counseling for HIV-affected clients. Methods. We conducted semistructured interviews with 38 providers (medical and clinical officers, nurses, peer counselors, and village health workers) delivering care to HIV-infected clients across 5 healthcare centres in Mbarara District, Uganda. Interview transcripts were analyzed using content analysis. Results. Of 38 providers, 76% were women with median age 34 years (range 24–57). First, we discuss providers' reproductive counseling practices. Emergent themes include that providers (1) assess reproductive goals of HIV-infected female clients frequently, but infrequently for male clients; (2) offer counseling focused on “family planning” and maternal and child health; (3) empathize with the importance of having children for HIV-affected clients; and (4) describe opportunities to counsel HIV-serodiscordant couples. Second, we discuss provider-level challenges that impede safer conception counseling. Emergent themes included the following: (1) providers struggle to translate reproductive rights language into individualized risk reduction given concerns about maternal health and HIV transmission and (2) providers lack safer conception training and support needed to provide counseling. Discussion. Tailored guidelines and training are required for providers to implement safer conception counseling. Such support must respond to provider experiences with adverse HIV-related maternal and child outcomes and a national emphasis on pregnancy prevention.
Young adults in South Africa are at the epicenter of the HIV epidemic. The prevalence of HIV among young people in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is particularly high. This study characterizes inkwari (Zulu word for raves or weekend-long parties) in eThekwini District, KZN and explored how these place-based dynamics shape the risk environment for the young adult attendees. In 2011, 13 qualitative interviews were conducted with men and women between 18 and 30 years-old who reported unprotected sex with at least one casual partner in the prior 3 months and attended an inkwari in the same time period. Interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Nine key informant interviews helped to triangulate these data. Five women and eight men were interviewed and the mean age was 25 years (SD 3.24). Ten reported meeting a sexual partner at an inkwari. Inkwari were characterized as sexualized settings with limited adult supervision. Participants attended inkwari to socialize with peers, use drugs and alcohol, and meet sexual partners. Sexual and physical violence also occurred at inkwari. Given the convergence of social, sexual, and substance- using networks at inkwari, further inquiry is needed to determine how this place may potentiate HIV transmission risk in an endemic setting.
HIV; Inkwari; South Africa; Place; Youth
Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), using tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and combination tenofovir disoproxil fumarate / emtricitabine, is efficacious for prevention of HIV acquisition. PrEP could reduce periconception HIV risk, but the effect on pregnancy outcomes is not well defined.
To assess pregnancy incidence and outcomes among women using PrEP during the periconception period.
Randomized trial among 1785 HIV serodiscordant heterosexual couples (the Partners PrEP Study) in which the female partner was HIV uninfected that demonstrated that PrEP was efficacious for HIV prevention, conducted between July 2008 and June 2013 at 9 sites in Kenya and Uganda.
Daily oral tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) (n=598), combination tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine (TDF-FTC) (n=566), or placebo (n=621) through July 2011, when PrEP demonstrated efficacy for HIV prevention; thereafter, participants continued receiving active PrEP, without placebo. Pregnancy testing occurred monthly and study medication was discontinued upon pregnancy detection.
Pregnancy incidence, birth outcomes (pregnancy loss, preterm birth, congenital anomalies), infant growth.
A total of 431 pregnancies occurred. Pregnancy incidence was 10.0 per 100 person-years among women assigned placebo, 11.9 among those assigned TDF (incidence difference 1.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] −1.1–4.9, p=0.22 versus placebo), and 8.8 among those assigned TDF-FTC (incidence difference −1.3, 95% CI −4.1–1.5, p=0.39 versus placebo). Prior to discontinuation of the placebo treatment group in July 2011, the occurrence of pregnancy loss (96 of 288 pregnancies), was 42.5% for women receiving TDF-FTC compared with 32.3% for those receiving placebo (difference for TDF-FTC versus placebo 10.2%, 95% CI −5.3–25.7, p=0.16) and was 27.7% for those receiving TDF alone (difference versus placebo −4.6%, 95% CI −18.1–8.9, p=0.46). After July 2011, the frequency of pregnancy loss (52 of 143 pregnancies) was 37.5% for TDF-FTC and 36.7% for TDF alone (difference 0.8%, 95% CI −16.8–18.5, p=0.92). Preterm birth and congenital anomalies did not differ significantly for those who received PrEP versus placebo. Infants born to women randomized to PrEP had growth throughout the first year of life not statistically different than placebo and with point estimates that did not suggest growth restriction.
Conclusions and Relevance
Among HIV serodiscordant heterosexual African couples, differences in pregnancy incidence, birth outcomes, and infant growth were not statistically different for women receiving PrEP with TDF alone or combination TDF-FTC compared to placebo at the time of conception. Given that PrEP was discontinued when pregnancy was detected and that confidence intervals for the birth outcomes were wide, definitive statements about safety of PrEP in the periconception period cannot be made. These results should be discussed with HIV uninfected women receiving PrEP who are considering becoming pregnant. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00557245)
pre-exposure prophylaxis; HIV; pregnancy
Whoonga is a drug cocktail in South Africa rumored to contain illicit drugs and HIV antiretroviral (ARV) medication. Although its use may adversely impact adherence to HIV treatment and may have the potential to generate ARV resistance, there is a paucity of research characterizing whoonga. We learned of whoonga during semi-structured interviews about substance abuse and HIV risk at “club-events” known as inkwaris in an urban township of Durban, South Africa. Whoonga was an emerging theme spontaneously identified as a problem for the community by 17 out of 22 informants. Perceptions of whoonga suggest that it is highly addictive, contains ARVs (notably efavirenz), is used by individuals as young as 14, and poses a threat to the health and safety of those who use it, including increasing the risk of HIV infection. Our informants provide preliminary evidence of the dangers of whoonga and reinforce the need for further study.
Recreational HIV antiretroviral use; Substance abuse; South Africa; Whoonga and nyaope; Antiretroviral diversion
To assess the impact of pregnancy on mortality among HIV-infected Ugandan women initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Prospective cohort study.
HIV-infected women initiating ART in the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes study were assessed quarterly for self-reported pregnancy. The association between pregnant/postpartum (“pregnancy-related”) follow-up periods and mortality was assessed with Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, CD4 cell count, plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, and ART duration.
354 women with median age 33 years (IQR: 27-37) and CD4 142 cells/mm3 (IQR: 82-213) were followed for a median of 4.0 years (IQR: 2.5-4.8) after ART initiation, with 3% and 6% loss-to-follow-up at years 1 and 3. 109 women experienced pregnancy. Five deaths occurred during pregnancy-related follow-up and 16 during non-pregnancy-related follow-up, for crude mortality rates during the first year after ART initiation of 12.57/100 PYs and 3.53/100 PYs (Rate Ratio 3.56, 95% CI: 0.97-11.07). In adjusted models, the impact of pregnancy-related follow-up on mortality was highest at ART initiation (aHR: 21.48, 95% CI: 3.73 - 123.51), decreasing to 13.44 (95% CI 3.28 – 55.11) after 4 months, 8.28 (95% CI 2.38 – 28.88) after 8 months, 5.18 (95% CI: 1.36 - 19.71) after one year, and 1.25 (95% CI: 0.10 - 15.58) after two years on ART. Four of five maternal deaths occurred postpartum.
Pregnancy and the postpartum period were associated with increased mortality in HIV-infected women initiating ART, particularly during early ART. Contraception proximate to ART initiation, earlier ART initiation, and careful monitoring during the postpartum period may reduce maternal mortality in this setting.
HIV; maternal health; maternal mortality; immune reconstitution; pregnancy; postpartum; antiretroviral therapy; mortality; Africa; women
Understanding factors that influence pregnancy decision-making and experiences among HIV-positive women is important for developing integrated reproductive health and HIV services. Few studies have examined HIV-positive women's navigation through the social and clinical factors that shape experiences of pregnancy in the context of access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). We conducted 25 semistructured interviews with HIV-positive, pregnant women receiving ART in Mbarara, Uganda in 2011 to explore how access to ART shapes pregnancy experiences. Main themes included: (1) clinical counselling about pregnancy is often dissuasive but focuses on the importance of ART adherence once pregnant; (2) accordingly, women demonstrate knowledge about the role of ART adherence in maintaining maternal health and reducing risks of perinatal HIV transmission; (3) this knowledge contributes to personal optimism about pregnancy and childbearing in the context of HIV; and (4) knowledge about and adherence to ART creates opportunities for HIV-positive women to manage normative community and social expectations of childbearing. Access to ART and knowledge of the accompanying lowered risks of mortality, morbidity, and HIV transmission improved experiences of pregnancy and empowered HIV-positive women to discretely manage conflicting social expectations and clinical recommendations regarding childbearing.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may be an important safer conception strategy for HIV-1–uninfected women with HIV-1–infected partners. Understanding medication adherence in this population may inform whether PrEP is a feasible safer conception strategy.
We evaluated predictors of pregnancy and adherence to study medication among HIV-1–uninfected women enrolled in a randomized placebo-controlled trial of PrEP among African HIV-1–serodiscordant couples. Participants were counseled on HIV-1 risk reduction, contraception, and adherence and tested for pregnancy at monthly study visits. Pill counts of dispensed drug were performed and, at a subset of visits, plasma was collected to measure active drug concentration.
Among 1785 women, pregnancy incidence was 10.2 per 100 person-years. Younger age, not using contraception, having an additional sexual partner, and reporting unprotected sex were associated with increased likelihood of pregnancy. Monthly clinic pill counts estimated that women experiencing pregnancy took 97% of prescribed doses overall, with at least 80% pill adherence for 98% of study months, and no difference in adherence in the periconception period compared with previous periods (P = 0.98). Tenofovir was detected in plasma at 71% of visits where pregnancy was discovered. By multiple measures, adherence was similar for women experiencing and not experiencing pregnancy (P ≥ 0.1).
In this clinical trial of PrEP, pregnancy incidence was 10% per year despite excellent access to effective contraception. Women experiencing pregnancy had high medication adherence, suggesting that PrEP may be an acceptable and feasible safer conception strategy for HIV-1–uninfected women with HIV-1–serodiscordant partners.
pregnancy; HIV-1 prevention; pre-exposure prophylaxis; adherence; safer conception; serodiscordant couples; sub-Saharan Africa
Implementation of safer conception strategies requires knowledge of partner HIV-serostatus. We recruited women and men in a high HIV-prevalence setting for a study to assess periconception risk behavior among individuals reporting HIV-serodiscordant partnerships. We report screening data from that study with the objective of estimating the proportion of individuals who are aware that they are in an HIV-serodiscordant relationship at the time of conception.
We screened women and men attending antenatal and antiretroviral clinics in Durban, South Africa for enrollment in a study of periconception risk behavior among individuals with serodiscordant partners. Screening questionnaires assessed for study eligibility including age 18–45 years (for women) or at least 18 years of age (for men), pregnancy in past year (women) or partner pregnancy in the past 3 years (men), HIV status of partner for recent pregnancy, participant’s HIV status, and infected partner’s HIV status having been known before the referent pregnancy.
Among 2620 women screened, 2344 (90%) met age and pregnancy criteria and knew who fathered the referent pregnancy. Among those women, 963 (41%) did not know the pregnancy partner’s HIV serostatus at time of screening. Only 92 (4%) reported knowing of a serodiscordant partnership prior to pregnancy. Among 1166 men screened, 225 (19%) met age and pregnancy criteria. Among those men, 71 (32%) did not know the pregnancy partner’s HIV status and only 30 (13%) reported knowing of a serodiscordant partnership prior to pregnancy.
In an HIV-endemic setting, awareness of partner HIV serostatus is rare. Innovative strategies to increase HIV testing and disclosure are required to facilitate HIV prevention interventions for serodiscordant couples.
HIV prevention; HIV serodiscordant couples; Safer conception; HIV serostatus disclosure
A major barrier to improving perinatal mental health in Africa is the lack of locally validated tools for identifying probable cases of perinatal depression or for measuring changes in depression symptom severity. We systematically reviewed the evidence on the reliability and validity of instruments to assess perinatal depression in African settings.
Methods and Findings
Of 1,027 records identified through searching 7 electronic databases, we reviewed 126 full-text reports. We included 25 unique studies, which were disseminated in 26 journal articles and 1 doctoral dissertation. These enrolled 12,544 women living in nine different North and sub-Saharan African countries. Only three studies (12%) used instruments developed specifically for use in a given cultural setting. Most studies provided evidence of criterion-related validity (20 [80%]) or reliability (15 [60%]), while fewer studies provided evidence of construct validity, content validity, or internal structure. The Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS), assessed in 16 studies (64%), was the most frequently used instrument in our sample. Ten studies estimated the internal consistency of the EPDS (median estimated coefficient alpha, 0.84; interquartile range, 0.71-0.87). For the 14 studies that estimated sensitivity and specificity for the EPDS, we constructed 2 x 2 tables for each cut-off score. Using a bivariate random-effects model, we estimated a pooled sensitivity of 0.94 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.99) and a pooled specificity of 0.77 (95% CI, 0.59-0.88) at a cut-off score of ≥9, with higher cut-off scores yielding greater specificity at the cost of lower sensitivity.
The EPDS can reliably and validly measure perinatal depression symptom severity or screen for probable postnatal depression in African countries, but more validation studies on other instruments are needed. In addition, more qualitative research is needed to adequately characterize local understandings of perinatal depression-like syndromes in different African contexts.
HIV-serodiscordant couples face complicated choices between fulfilling reproductive desire and risking HIV transmission to their partners and children. Sexual HIV transmission can be dramatically reduced through artificial insemination and sperm washing, however most couples cannot access these resources. We propose that periconception pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could offer an important, complementary therapy to harm reduction counseling programs that aim to decrease HIV transmission for couples who choose to conceive.
In this paper we describe the potential benefits of periconception PrEP and define critical points of clarification prior to implementation of PrEP as part of a reproductive health program. We consider sexual transmission risk, current risk reduction options, PrEP efficacy, cost, adherence, resistance, fetal toxicity, and impact of PrEP counseling on entry into health services. We address PrEP in the context of other periconception HIV prevention strategies, including antiretroviral treatment of the HIV-infected partner. We conclude that, should PrEP prove safe and efficacious in ongoing trials, periconception PrEP may offer a useful approach to minimize risk of HIV transmission for individuals of reproductive age in HIV-endemic countries.
HIV; reproduction; fertility; serodiscordant couples; HIV prevention; HIV transmission; antiretroviral prophylaxis
Purpose of review
Many men and women living with HIV and their uninfected partners attempt to conceive children. HIV-prevention science can be applied to reduce sexual transmission risk while respecting couples’ reproductive goals. Here we discuss antiretrovirals as prevention in the context of safer conception for HIV-serodiscordant couples.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the infected partner and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the uninfected partner reduce the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission. Several demonstration projects suggest the feasibility and acceptability of antiretroviral (ARV)s as periconception HIV-prevention for HIV-serodiscordant couples. The application of ARVs to periconception risk reduction may be limited by adherence.
For male-infected (M+F−) couples who cannot access sperm processing and female-infected (F+M−) couples unwilling to carry out insemination without intercourse, ART for the infected partner, PrEP for the uninfected partner, combined with treatment for sexually transmitted infections, sex limited to peak fertility, and medical male circumcision (for F+M couples) provide excellent, well tolerated options for reducing the risk of periconception HIV sexual transmission.
antiretrovirals as prevention; conception; fertility; HIV prevention; HIV-serodiscordance; perinatal HIV transmission; sexual HIV transmission
Many people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa desire biological children. Implementation of HIV prevention strategies that support the reproductive goals of people living with HIV while minimizing HIV transmission risk to sexual partners and future children requires a comprehensive understanding of pregnancy in this population. We analyzed prospective cohort data to determine pregnancy incidence and predictors among HIV-positive women initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a setting with high HIV prevalence and fertility.
Participants were enrolled in the Uganda AIDS Rural Treatment Outcomes (UARTO) cohort of HIV-positive individuals initiating ART in Mbarara. Bloodwork (including CD4 cells/mm3, HIV viral load) and questionnaires (including socio-demographics, health status, sexual behavior, partner dynamics, HIV history, and self-reported pregnancy) were completed at baseline and quarterly. Our analysis includes 351 HIV-positive women (18–49 years) who enrolled between 2005–2011. We measured pregnancy incidence by proximal and distal time relative to ART initiation and used multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analysis (with repeated events) to identify baseline and time-dependent predictors of pregnancy post-ART initiation.
At baseline (pre-ART initiation), median age was 33 years [IQR: 27–37] and median prior livebirths was four [IQR: 2–6]. 38% were married with 61% reporting HIV-positive spouses. 73% of women had disclosed HIV status to a primary sexual partner. Median baseline CD4 was 137 cells/mm3 [IQR: 81–207]. At enrolment, 9.1% (31/342) reported current pregnancy. After ART initiation, 84 women experienced 105 pregnancies over 3.8 median years of follow-up, yielding a pregnancy incidence of 9.40 per 100 WYs. Three years post-ART initiation, cumulative probability of at least one pregnancy was 28% and independently associated with younger age (Adjusted Hazard Ratio (AHR): 0.89/year increase; 95%CI: 0.86–0.92) and HIV serostatus disclosure to primary sexual partner (AHR: 2.45; 95%CI: 1.29–4.63).
Nearly one-third of women became pregnant within three years of initiating ART, highlighting the need for integrated services to prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce periconception-related risks for HIV-infected women choosing to conceive. Association with younger age and disclosure suggests a role for early and couples-based safer conception counselling.
Integrated reproductive health services for people living with HIV must address their fertility intentions. For HIV-serodiscordant couples who want to conceive, attempted conception confers a substantial risk of HIV transmission to the uninfected partner. Behavioral and pharmacologic strategies may reduce HIV transmission risk among HIV-serodiscordant couples who seek to conceive. In order to develop effective pharmaco-behavioral programs, it is important to understand and address the contexts surrounding reproductive decision-making; perceived periconception HIV transmission risk; and periconception risk behaviors. We present a conceptual framework to describe the dynamics involved in periconception HIV risk behaviors in a South African setting. We adapt the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skill Model of HIV Preventative Behavior to address the structural, individual and couple-level determinants of safer conception behavior. The framework is intended to identify factors that influence periconception HIV risk behavior among serodiscordant couples, and therefore to guide design and implementation of integrated and effective HIV, reproductive health and family planning services that support reproductive decision-making.
conceptual framework; HIV; serodiscordant couples; pregnancy; safer conception
David Bangsberg and colleagues explore the challenges and rewards of sharing research findings with participants living with HIV enrolled in observational research in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Antiretroviral prophylaxis may be a critical strategy to reduce periconception HIV transmission. Maximizing the benefit of periconception pharmacologic HIV risk-reduction requires an understanding of the links between pregnancy and adherence to this prevention strategy.
We assessed study gel adherence among women with pregnancies compared to women without pregnancies enrolled in the CAPRISA 004 phase IIB trial of 1% vaginal tenofovir gel. Pregnancy was assessed with monthly urine tests. Adherence was measured monthly and defined as proportion of sex acts covered by two returned, used applicators based on pre- and post-coital dosing. High adherence was defined as a median adherence score of >80%, that is, more than 80% of sex acts were covered by two applications of study gel. A multivariate generalized estimating equations (GEE) model with a binomial distribution was used to assess covariates associated with high adherence (>80%) over time. Median adherence before and after pregnancy was compared using Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Among 868 women, 53 had at least 1 pregnancy (4.06 per 100 woman years, 95% CI: 3.04, 5.31). Women with pregnancies had lower median adherence compared to women without pregnancies (50% [IQR: 45–83] vs. 60% [IQR: 50–100], p = 0.02). Women with pregnancies also had a 48% lower odds of high adherence compared to women without pregnancies when adjusting for confounders (aOR 0.52, 95%CI: 0.41–0.66, p<0.0001). Among women with pregnancies, adherence before and after pregnancy was not different (50% [IQR: 46–83] vs. 55% [IQR: 20–100], p = 0.68).
Women with pregnancies were less likely to have high adherence to study gel compared to women without pregnancies. Understanding these differences may inform findings from HIV prevention trials and future implementation of antiretroviral prophylaxis for at-risk women who choose to conceive. The protocol for the parent trial is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00441298, http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00441298.
Background. Preventing unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV is an important component of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), yet few data exist on contraceptive use among women entering HIV care. Methods. This was a retrospective study of electronic medical records from the initial HIV clinic visits of 826 sexually active, nonpregnant, 18–49-year old women in southwestern Uganda in 2009. We examined whether contraceptive use was associated with HIV status disclosure to one's spouse. Results. The proportion reporting use of contraception was 27.8%. The most common method used was injectable hormones (51.7%), followed by condoms (29.6%), and oral contraceptives (8.7%). In multivariable analysis, the odds of contraceptive use were significantly higher among women reporting secondary education, higher income, three or more children, and younger age. There were no significant independent associations between contraceptive use and HIV status disclosure to spouse. Discussion. Contraceptive use among HIV-positive females enrolling into HIV care in southwestern Uganda was low. Our results suggest that increased emphasis should be given to increase the contraception uptake for all women especially those with lower education and income. HIV clinics may be prime sites for contraception education and service delivery integration.
Standard values for birth weight by gestational age are not available for sub-Saharan Africa, but are needed to evaluate incidence and risk factors for intrauterine growth retardation in settings where HIV, antiretrovirals, and other in utero exposures may impact birth outcomes.
Birth weight data were collected from six hospitals in Botswana. Infants born to HIV-negative women between 26-44 weeks gestation were analyzed to construct birth weight for gestational age charts. These data were compared with published norms for black infants in the United States.
During a 29 month period from 2007-2010, birth records were reviewed in real-time from 6 hospitals and clinics in Botswana. Of these, 11,753 live infants born to HIV-negative women were included in the analysis. The median gestational age at birth was 39 weeks (1st quartile 38, 3rd quartile 40 weeks), and the median birth weight was 3100 grams (1st quartile 2800, 3rd quartile 3400 grams). We constructed estimated percentile curves for birth weight by gestational age which demonstrate increasing slope during the third trimester and leveling off beyond 40 weeks. Compared with black infants in the United States, Botswana-born infants had lower median birth weight for gestational age from weeks 37 through 42 (p < .02).
We present birth weight for gestational age norms for Botswana, which are lower at term than norms for black infants in the United States. These findings suggest the importance of regional birth weight norms to identify and define risk factors for higher risk births. These data serve as a reference for Botswana, may apply to southern Africa, and may help to identify infants at risk for perinatal complications and inform comparisons among infants exposed to HIV and antiretrovirals in utero.
Understanding reproductive decisions and periconception behavior among HIV-discordant couples is important for designing risk reduction interventions for couples who choose to conceive. In-depth interviews were conducted to explore reproductive decision-making and periconception practices among HIV-positive women with recent pregnancy (n = 30), and HIV-positive men (n = 20), all reporting partners of negative or unknown HIV-status, and attending HIV services in Durban, South Africa. Transcripts were coded for categories and emergent themes. Participants expressed strong reasons for having children, but rarely knew how to reduce periconception HIV transmission. Pregnancy planning occurred on a spectrum ranging from explicitly intended to explicitly unintended, with many falling in between the two extremes. Male fertility desire and misunderstanding serodiscordance contributed to HIV risk behavior. Participants expressed openness to healthcare worker advice for safer conception and modified risk behavior post-conception, suggesting the feasibility of safer conception interventions which may target both men and women and include serodiscordance counseling and promotion of contraception.
HIV-serodiscordant couples; HIV prevention; Safer conception; Family planning; South Africa
second-line antiretroviral therapy; virologic failure; HIV-1 drug resistance; resource-limited settings; South Africa
Stavudine continues to be used in antiretroviral treatment (ART) regimens in
many resource-limited settings. The use of zidovudine instead of stavudine
in higher-risk patients to reduce the likelihood of lactic acidosis and
hyperlactatemia (LAHL) has not been examined.
Antiretroviral-naïve, HIV-infected adults initiating ART between 2004
and 2007 were divided into cohorts of those initiated on stavudine- or
zidovudine-containing therapy. We evaluated stavudine or zidovudine use,
age, sex, body mass index (BMI), baseline CD4 cell count, creatinine,
hemoglobin, alanine aminotransferase, and albumin as predictors of time to
LAHL with Cox Proportional Hazards (PH) regression models.
Among 2062 patients contributing 2747 patient years (PY), the combined
incidence of LAHL was 3.2/100 PY in those initiating stavudine- and 0.34/100
PY in those initiating zidovudine-containing ART (RR 9.26, 95% CI:
1.28–66.93). In multivariable Cox PH analysis, stavudine exposure (HR
14.31, 95% CI: 5.79–35.30), female sex (HR 3.41, 95% CI:
1.89–6.19), higher BMI (HR 3.21, 95% CI: 2.16–4.77),
higher creatinine (1.63, 95% CI: 1.12–2.36), higher albumin (HR
1.04, 95% CI: 1.01–1.07), and lower CD4 cell count (HR 0.96,
95% CI: 0.92–1.0) at baseline were associated with higher LAHL
rates. Among participants who started on stavudine, switching to zidovudine
was associated with lower LAHL rates (HR 0.15, 95% CI:
0.06–0.35). Subgroup analysis limited to women with higher BMI≥25
kg/m2 initiated on stavudine also showed that switch to zidovudine was
protective when controlling for other risk factors (HR 0.21, 95% CI
Stavudine exposure, female sex, and higher BMI are strong, independent
predictors for developing LAHL. Patients with risk factors for lactic
acidosis have less LAHL while on zidovudine- rather than
stavudine-containing ART. Switching patients from stavudine to zidovudine is
protective. Countries continuing to use stavudine should avoid this drug in
women and patients with higher BMI.
Both naïve CD4+ and naïve CD8+ T cells are depleted in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection by unknown mechanisms. Analysis of their dynamics prior to and after highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) could reveal possible mechanisms of depletion. Twenty patients were evaluated with immunophenotyping, intracellular Ki67 staining, T-cell receptor excision circle (TREC) quantitation in sorted CD4 and CD8 cells, and thymic computed tomography scans prior to and ∼6 and ∼18 months after initiation of HAART. Naïve T-cell proliferation decreased significantly during the first 6 months of therapy (P < 0.01) followed by a slower decline. Thymic indices did not change significantly over time. At baseline, naïve CD4+ T-cell numbers were lower than naive CD8+ T-cell numbers; after HAART, a greater increase in naïve CD4+ T cells than naïve CD8+ T cells was observed. A greater relative change (n-fold) in the number of TREC+ T cells/μl than in naïve T-cell counts was observed at 6 months for both CD4+ (median relative change [n-fold] of 2.2 and 1.7, respectively; P < 0.01) and CD8+ T cell pools (1.4 and 1.2; P < 0.01). A more pronounced decrease in the proliferation than the disappearance rate of naïve T cells after HAART was observed in a second group of six HIV-1-infected patients studied by in vivo pulse labeling with bromodeoxyuridine. These observations are consistent with a mathematical model where the HIV-1-induced increase in proliferation of naïve T cells is mostly explained by a faster recruitment into memory cells.
Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.
Among HIV-infected women, perinatal depression compromises clinical, maternal, and child health outcomes. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is associated with lower depression symptom severity but the uniformity of effect through pregnancy and postpartum periods is unknown.
We analyzed prospective data from 447 HIV-infected women (18–49 years) initiating ART in rural Uganda (2005–2012). Participants completed blood work and comprehensive questionnaires quarterly. Pregnancy status was assessed by self-report. Analysis time periods were defined as currently pregnant, postpartum (0–12 months post-pregnancy outcome), or non–pregnancy-related. Depression symptom severity was measured using a modified Hopkins Symptom Checklist 15, with scores ranging from 1 to 4. Probable depression was defined as >1.75. Linear regression with generalized estimating equations was used to compare mean depression scores over the 3 periods.
At enrollment, median age was 32 years (interquartile range: 27–37), median CD4 count was 160 cells per cubic millimeter (interquartile range: 95–245), and mean depression score was 1.75 (s = 0.58) (39% with probable depression). Over 4.1 median years of follow-up, 104 women experienced 151 pregnancies. Mean depression scores did not differ across the time periods (P = 0.75). Multivariable models yielded similar findings. Increasing time on ART, viral suppression, better physical health, and “never married” were independently associated with lower mean depression scores. Findings were consistent when assessing probable depression.
Although the lack of association between depression and perinatal periods is reassuring, high depression prevalence at treatment initiation and continued incidence across pregnancy and non–pregnancy-related periods of follow-up highlight the critical need for mental health services for HIV-infected women to optimize both maternal and perinatal health.
depression; pregnancy; postpartum; perinatal; HIV infection; antiretroviral therapy; mental health; maternal health; Uganda
Safer conception strategies create opportunities for HIV-serodiscordant couples to realize fertility goals and minimize periconception HIV transmission. Patient–provider communication about fertility goals is the first step in safer conception counseling.
We explored provider practices of assessing fertility intentions among HIV-infected men and women, attitudes toward people living with HIV (PLWH) having children, and knowledge and provision of safer conception advice. We conducted in-depth interviews (9 counselors, 15 nurses, 5 doctors) and focus group discussions (6 counselors, 7 professional nurses) in eThekwini District, South Africa. Data were translated, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis with NVivo10 software.
Among 42 participants, median age was 41 (range, 28–60) years, 93% (39) were women, and median years worked in the clinic was 7 (range, 1–27). Some providers assessed women's, not men's, plans for having children at antiretroviral therapy initiation, to avoid fetal exposure to efavirenz. When conducted, reproductive counseling included CD4 cell count and HIV viral load assessment, advising mutual HIV status disclosure, and referral to another provider. Barriers to safer conception counseling included provider assumptions of HIV seroconcordance, low knowledge of safer conception strategies, personal feelings toward PLWH having children, and challenges to tailoring safer sex messages.
Providers need information about HIV serodiscordance and safer conception strategies to move beyond discussing only perinatal transmission and maternal health for PLWH who choose to conceive. Safer conception counseling may be more feasible if the message is distilled to delaying conception attempts until the infected partner is on antiretroviral therapy. Designated and motivated nurse providers may be required to provide comprehensive safer conception counseling.
safer conception; client–provider communication; HIV prevention; South Africa