Purpose of review: The purpose of the study was to review recent evidence on the use of antiretrovirals during pregnancy and breastfeeding in low-income and middle-income settings.
Recent findings: Access to antiretroviral prophylaxis strategies for HIV-infected pregnant women has increased globally, but two-thirds of women in need still do not receive even the simplest regimen for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and most pregnant women in need of antiretroviral treatment do not receive it. The use of combination antiretroviral treatment in pregnancy in low-resource settings is safe and effective, and increasing evidence supports starting ongoing antiretroviral treatment at a CD4 cell count below 350/μl in pregnant women. The use of appropriate short-course antiretroviral prophylactic regimens is effective for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in women with higher CD4 cell counts. New data on the use of antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent transmission through breastfeeding demonstrate that both maternal antiretroviral treatment and extended infant prophylaxis are effective.
Summary: Antiretroviral use in pregnancy can benefit mothers in need of treatment and reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. Emerging evidence of the effectiveness of antiretroviral prophylaxis in preventing transmission through breastfeeding is encouraging and likely to influence practice in the future.