Background: Lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) is recommended for all HIV-infected pregnant women, but early studies suggest that women often drop out of care postpartum and data are limited on virologic outcomes.
Methods: We evaluated viral suppression (primary outcome) and retention in care up to 5 years after ART initiation among HIV-infected women who started lifelong ART during pregnancy, irrespective of CD4 count, in a study in rural Uganda (NCT00993031). Participants were followed in the study for up to 1 year postpartum, then referred to clinics in surrounding communities. A random sample (N = 200) was invited to participate in a cross-sectional follow-up study after completing the trial, involving one visit for a questionnaire and pregnancy and HIV-1 RNA testing. Retention in care was defined as having attended an HIV clinic in the last 90 days. Logistic regression models were used to examine factors associated with viral suppression (HIV-1 RNA <400 copies/ml) at follow-up.
Results: One hundred fifty women (75%) were successfully contacted for follow-up at a median of 4.2 years after starting ART; 135 were retained in care [90%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 84.0% to 94.3%] and 121 demonstrated viral suppression (80.7%, 95% CI: 73.4% to 86.7%). Women who had disclosed their HIV status to their primary partner had greater odds of viral suppression (adjusted odds ratio: 4.51, 95% CI: 1.02 to 19.8).
Conclusions: High rates of viral suppression can be achieved up to 5 years after initiating ART during pregnancy among women retained in care. Interventions to facilitate disclosure may improve long-term outcomes among women who initiate ART during pregnancy under universal treatment.