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Pregnancy Complications

HIV/AIDS in Pregnancy

Study Recommends Anti-HIV 'Cocktail' for
 Pregnant Women

Has your doctor been treating you with AZT, hesitant to use the newer, more effective protease inhibitor drugs-known as the "cocktail" because you're pregnant?

Protease inhibitor drugs interfere with the human Immuno-deficiency virus' ability to multiply. The drugs, used in combinations, have been so successful in some people that the viral load has been reduced to unreadable levels. It should be noted here that the virus does not disappear nor are these people cured. But one of the factors in how sick a virus, bacteria, or toxin makes you is how much of it is present in your body.

Some doctors have been just as reluctant to use these drugs in pregnant women as they are with any new drug. What might it do to the pregnancy?

In the summer of l998, the National Institutes of Health issued a warning that doctors should be cautious in prescribing these drugs because of concern for increasing the risk of premature births. The recommendation did not suggest stopping this therapy in women who were already taking these drugs. It just advised physicians that all risk factors for premature birth should be evaluated. If you are already at high risk for premature labor, perhaps this drug would push you into an early delivery. However, those same studies did not clearly show that protease inhibitors actually caused the problem. Premature delivery also occurred in women taking two older AIDS drugs. So, it has been suggested that the premature births could have been caused by taking multiple drugs, not necessarily the protease inhibitor.

The University of Southern California School of Medicine completed a new study involving 74 HIV-positive women who took protease inhibitors during their pregnancies and showed no increased risk for premature birth. The rate of early births was low, and there were no birth defects among the babies. The children are still being monitored and, so far, all the children are HIV negative. These researchers, therefore, recommended that the new combination therapy should be offered to pregnant women.

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