Many pregnant women with HIV prescribed treatment not meeting federal guidelines

Dec. 23, 2019

More than 20% of pregnant women beginning anti-HIV treatment were prescribed an antiretroviral treatment that did not meet federal guidelines for use during pregnancy, according to an analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study was led by Kathleen M. Powis, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital. It appears in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers analyzed data on women enrolled from 2008 to 2017 in the Surveillance Monitoring for ART Toxicities in HIV Uninfected Children Born to HIV Infected Women (SMARTT) study. Conducted in 18 U.S. research hospitals, SMARTT enrolled women living with HIV during pregnancy or at delivery. They compared each woman’s HIV treatment regimen to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s treatment guidelines, which classify treatment as preferred (safe for pregnant women), alternative (no known safety concerns in pregnancy), insufficient data for use in pregnancy and not recommended for pregnancy except in special circumstances.

Of 1,867 women who began anti-HIV treatment before pregnancy, only 925 (49.5%) were prescribed regimens designated as preferred or alternative. Another 492 (26.4%) were prescribed regimens with insufficient data, and 136 (7.3%) were prescribed regimens not recommended for use during pregnancy. Of 452 women who began treatment during pregnancy, 91 (20.1%) were prescribed therapies with insufficient data or that were not recommended. The study authors called for additional studies to determine reasons why prescribing practices for pregnant women living with HIV may not align with current treatment guidelines.

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