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Minerva Ginecologica 2002 October;54(5):373-86

language: English, Italian

162 HIV-1 infected pregnant women and vertical transmission. Results of a prospective study

Ferrero S., Gotta G., Melica G., Biasotti B., Ravera G., Bentivoglio G.


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Background. Aim of this paper is to describe the changes over a 16-year period of the characteristics and management of HIV infected pregnant women.
Methods. Prospective study: analysis of data obtained from 162 women and 176 infants. Factors evaluated included: maternal socio-demographic level, immunological and virological parameters, antiretroviral therapy, mode of delivery, pregnancy outcome and babies follow-up.
Results. The proportion of women with heterosexual acquisition of infection has increased significantly from 13.5% in 1985-1989 to 47.1% in 1996-2001 (p<0.0005, Fisher's exact test), while the proportion acquiring HIV through injecting drugs has declined. Mean CD4 cell count at delivery was 535x106/l (±522.3x106/l). In 1990, 50% of mothers received antiretroviral therapy, rising significantly to 87.5% in 2000. The elective cesarean section was introduced in 1998 and its rate has increased to 75% in 2000. The vertical transmission rate changed from 9.5% in 1985-1989 to 14.3% in 1996-2000 (this difference was not statistically significant, Fisher's exact test).
Conclusions. Social characteristics of the HIV-infected women have changed since the mid-1980s: in recent times women are having children at increasingly older ages and are more likely to know that they are HIV infected when they become pregnant. Antiretroviral therapy, elective caesarean delivery and avoidance of breastfeeding can reduce transmission of HIV, but the vertical transmission rate was unaffected by their use in our study and it remains high in comparison with rates reported from other studies.

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