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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
HIV Disease and Reproductive Counseling
Kurth, Ann
July 17, 1995
Focus (06/95) Vol. 10, No. 7, P. 1

There are several factors that HIV-infected women may consider when making reproductive decisions and HIV-related treatment choices once pregnancy is underway. In order to make an informed decision, women need to have the available facts about HIV infection and pregnancy. Maternal-fetal transmission can occur as early as the first trimester, though now it appears that as much as 60 percent of transmission occurs late in pregnancy or during labor and delivery. Recent findings from the National Institutes of Health AIDS Clinical Trials Group O76 study suggest that AZT can reduce the risks of such transmission by two-thirds. Although encouraging, women should be aware of the need for long-term follow up in the study, as well as balance the possible benefits of AZT against the risks to their fetuses. Women who know of their HIV infection in time to make decisions about whether to continue their pregnancy should consider the effect of HIV on the pregnancy, on the mother's health, on the fetus, and later, on the infant. Some studies indicate that there is some decline in cell-mediated immune response during pregnancy, especially in T-helper subsets. The most effective way to prevent pediatric HIV infection is to prevent infection in women. This goal would require more prevention and testing outreach to male partners, more accessible and female-friendly addiction treatment, and greater emphasis on women's roles beyond reproduction.