Background: Pregnancy may lead to increases in HIV-1 RNA levels postpartum. The AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) A5150 study was designed to characterize the incidence of viral load rebound during the immediate 24 weeks postpartum and explore factors associated with viral load rebound.
Methods: We enrolled pregnant women in the United States who were ≥13 years of age, between 22 to 30 weeks gestation, and who planned to be on stable highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for ≥8 weeks predelivery and to continue this therapy after delivery for the duration of the study. Choice of antiretrovirals (ARVs) was determined by the primary HIV provider. Viral load rebound was defined as an increase of ≥0.7 log10 (5-fold) from the average of the weeks 34 and 36 gestation viral loads to week 24 postpartum or an absolute increase to ≯500 copies/mL for those with viral load <50 copies/mL.
Results: Eighty-four women enrolled for postpartum follow-up. Sixty-three had follow-up and viral load obtained through week 24 postpartum. Overall, 18/63 (28.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 17.9-41.4) met criteria for viral load rebound. Nineteen of the 63 women made changes or discontinued their ARV regimen prior to week 24 postpartum. For those who remained on stable ARVs, rebound occurred in 8/44 (18.2%; 95% CI, 8.2-32.7) compared with 10/19 (52.6%; 95% CI, 28.9-75.5) who did not remain on a stable ARV regimen.
Conclusions: In the early postpartum period, HIV-1-infected women commonly have increases in viral load. Unplanned changes in ARV regimens and discontinuations of treatment are frequent.