Safety and pharmacokinetics of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy

Ther Drug Monit. 2004 Apr;26(2):110-5. doi: 10.1097/00007691-200404000-00004.


Combined antiretroviral therapy can reduce the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to an unborn child to less than two percent. An HIV-infected woman of childbearing age and her medical provider are in the unique position of making treatment decisions that not only will impact the woman's health but also that of her child. Treatment recommendations for pregnant women infected with HIV state that therapies of known benefit to women should not be withheld during pregnancy, unless there are known adverse effects for the mother and fetus, and these adverse effects outweigh the benefit for the women. However, the recommendations of antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women are subject to unique considerations, including potential changes in dosing requirement resulting from physiologic changes associated with pregnancy, and potential adverse effects on the development of the fetus and/or newborn. Currently there is a general lack of pharmacokinetic data in pregnant HIV-infected women. The limited available information suggests that pregnant women may be exposed to subtherapeutic drug levels of certain antiretroviral agents during the later stages of pregnancy, which can lead to the failure of virologic suppression, development of resistance and increased risk of vertical transmission of HIV infection. The available pharmacokinetic data regarding the use of antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology
  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / chemically induced
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Anti-HIV Agents