Pregnancy Doubles HIV Risk in Men; First Trial of a Microbicide in Pregnant Women
Young women of reproductive-age are among those at greatest risk of acquiring HIV, and several studies have suggested that during pregnancy women are even more susceptible to infection. Now, a new study finds that pregnancy is a time when men also are at greater risk. In fact, their risk doubles if their partner is both HIV-infected and pregnant. Read more
The results were presented at the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA, along with findings of a pivotal study that is the first to ask whether using a microbicide during pregnancy is safe for women and their babies. Between 70 and 90 percent of all HIV infections in women are acquired through heterosexual intercourse, and women are twice as likely as their male partners to acquire HIV during sex, due in part to biological factors that make them more susceptible. Many women remain sexually active during pregnancy. Although correct and consistent use of male condoms has been shown to prevent HIV infection, women often cannot or do not wish to negotiate condom use with their male partners. And for many women, especially those who wish to become pregnant, abstinence is not an option they can consider. Microbicides — substances designed to be applied topically on the inside of the rectum or vagina – are under active investigation as a method for women to use to protect against HIV.
Pregnancy doubles HIV risk in men, study finds
While a number of studies have shown that during pregnancy women are at increased risk of acquiring HIV from an infected partner, a new study has found pregnancy is a time when men also are at greater risk – double the risk, in fact. The study, which involved 3,321 couples in which one partner was HIV-infected and the other not, is the first to show that a man in a relationship with an HIV-positive woman has a greater chance of becoming infected while she is pregnant than when she is not.
Even after accounting for behavioral and other factors that usually contribute to HIV risk, the increased risk associated with pregnancy remained. Biological changes that occur during pregnancy may make women more infectious than they would be otherwise, explains Nelly Mugo, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Nairobi &