It has been revealed that in pregnancy, the usage of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) can decrease the transmission of HIV to the newborn to approximately 1 percent.
Before the advent of HAART, many women with HIV infection or AIDS were told that becoming pregnant would be unwise because there was thought to be a 25 percent risk of transmitting the virus to the child and that the effects of pregnancy on disease progression were unclear.
However, this theory has been dismissed by the observational study carried out by Timothy R. Sterling, MD, and colleagues at the Vanderbilt University on HIV-infected women between 1997-2004, in order to determine the effects of pregnancy on progression of the HIV disease in the HAART era.
Out of the 759 women examined, 540 women received HAART. 139 women examined had one or more pregnancy during the study.
The researchers discovered that pregnant women were actually at a lower risk of progression of HIV. They were also found to be healthier than women who did not became pregnant.
Women experienced both before and after pregnancy a lower risk of disease progression. This could, possibly be a result of healthier immune status of women who became pregnant and/or a beneficial interaction between pregnancy and HAART.
"This apparent dose-response relationship supports a possible protective effect of pregnancy on disease progression. Pregnancy is associated with a complex set of immunological changes during the gestation period, which may provide additional benefit to the mother's health " Sterling noted.
The study is to be published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.