Recommendations for the Use of Antiretroviral Drugs in Pregnant Women with HIV Infection and Interventions to Reduce Perinatal HIV Transmission in the United States
The information in the brief version is excerpted directly from the full-text guidelines. The brief version is a compilation of the tables and boxed recommendations.
Antiretroviral Drug Resistance and Resistance Testing in Pregnancy
Last Updated: December 24, 2019; Last Reviewed: December 24, 2019
|Rating of Recommendations: A = Strong; B = Moderate; C = Optional
Rating of Evidence: I = One or more randomized trials with clinical outcomes and/or validated laboratory endpoints; II = One or more well-designed, nonrandomized trials or observational cohort studies with long-term clinical outcomes; III = Expert opinion
Indications for Antiretroviral Drug-Resistance Testing in Pregnant Women with HIV
Identification of baseline resistance mutations allows for the selection of more effective and durable antiretroviral (ARV) regimens. Genotypic resistance testing (in addition to obtaining a comprehensive history of ARV drug use) is recommended for women with HIV who have HIV RNA levels above the threshold for resistance testing (i.e., >500 to 1,000 copies/mL) before:
- Initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) in ARV-naive pregnant women who have not been previously tested for ARV resistance,
- Initiating ART in ARV-experienced pregnant women, or
- Modifying ART regimens for women who are newly pregnant and receiving ART drugs or who have suboptimal virologic response to ARV drugs that were initiated during pregnancy.
In most settings, the results of resistance testing guide the selection of the initial ART regimen. However, ART should be initiated in ARV-naive pregnant women or ARV-experienced women who are not presently on ART without waiting for the results of resistance testing, as earlier viral suppression is associated with lower risk of perinatal transmission. The regimen can be modified, if required, when test results return.
It is increasingly common for integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs) to be included in ART regimens for pregnant women.1 Resistance to INSTIs is generally uncommon among ARV-naive individuals in the United States.2 INSTI resistance was detected in 2.4% of ART-naive persons and 9.6% of ART-experienced persons with HIV in North Carolina.3 The prevalence of INSTI resistance increased slightly from 0.0% in 2004 to 1.4% in 2013 in Washington, DC.4 A polymorphism or a substitution associated with INSTI resistance was found in 1.4% of INSTI-naive persons in 16 clinical trials.5
The development of INSTI resistance is infrequent among people who receive INSTI-based ART (only 1.48% to 3.80% of people develop resistance). A modelling study found that testing for INSTI resistance at ART initiation was not cost effective and did not improve clinical outcomes.6 Routine INSTI-resistance testing is generally not indicated in pregnant women. However, such testing can be considered when a patient received prior treatment that included an INSTI or when a patient has a history with a sexual partner on INSTI therapy.
HIV drug resistance genotype testing detects mutations that confer resistance to protease inhibitors (PIs), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). Phenotypic resistance testing is generally reserved for cases of complex NRTI-resistance patterns in patients with limited treatment options (see Drug-Resistance Testing in the Adult and Adolescent Antiretroviral Guidelines). At some institutions, testing for INSTI resistance may have to be ordered separately.
Incidence and Significance of Antiretroviral Drug Resistance in Pregnancy
The development of ARV drug resistance is one of the major factors leading to therapeutic failure in individuals with HIV. In addition, pre-existing resistance to a drug in an ART regimen may diminish the regimen’s efficacy in preventing perinatal transmission. Maternal drug resistance can be transmitted to the fetus, which can limit treatment options for the infant. Resistance to ARV drugs appears to be more common in women who acquired HIV perinatally than in other women with HIV.7 The complexities of managing pregnant women with perinatally acquired HIV warrant consultation with an expert in HIV (see Antiretroviral Therapy and HIV Management in Women with Perinatal HIV Infection for more information).
Several factors that are unique to pregnancy may increase the risk of developing resistance. Problems such as nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy may compromise adherence, increasing the risk of developing resistance in women receiving ARV drugs. Pharmacokinetic changes during pregnancy, such as increased plasma volume and renal clearance, may lead to sub-therapeutic drug levels, increasing the risk that resistance will develop.
Impact of Resistance on the Risk of Perinatal HIV Transmission and Maternal Response to Subsequent Therapy
There is little evidence that the presence of resistance mutations increases the risk of perinatal transmission when pregnant women with HIV are on suppressive ART. Some studies have suggested that drug-resistance mutations may diminish viral fitness,8 possibly leading to a decrease in transmissibility. A nested case-control study that was conducted as part of the NICHD/HPTN 040 (P1043) study found that pre-existing drug-resistance mutations in pregnant women who did not receive antepartum ARV drugs were not associated with an increased risk of perinatal HIV transmission.9
Neither resistance to NNRTI drugs that develops as a result of exposure to single-dose nevirapine (NVP) nor exposure to single-dose NVP during a prior pregnancy has been shown to affect perinatal transmission rates.10
In the era before suppressive ART was recommended for all pregnant women, the prevalence of ARV drug resistance among newborns diagnosed with HIV in New York State was 11 of 91 infants (12.1%) born between 1989 and 1999 and eight of 42 (19%) infants born between 2001 and 2002.11,12 Thus, for infants with HIV, there is a high risk of ARV drug resistance. In a study of 84 children with perinatal HIV infection in France that collected data between 2006 and 2017, transmitted drug resistance was found in 8.3% of participants. No participants had triple-class resistance; 5% had INSTI-related mutations (an E157Q mutation that primarily affects susceptibility to raltegravir and elvitegravir but not dolutegravir).13
Maternal Response to Subsequent Treatment Regimens
A study that used data collected from pregnant women enrolled in the French Perinatal Cohort between 2005 and 2009 evaluated the association between exposure to ARV drugs to prevent perinatal transmission during a previous pregnancy and the presence of a detectable viral load after exposure to ARV drugs during the current pregnancy.14 Among 1,166 women who were not receiving ARV drugs at the time of conception, 869 were ARV-naive and 247 had received ARV drugs to prevent perinatal transmission during a previous pregnancy. Forty-eight percent of these women had previously used a PI-based regimen for ARV prophylaxis, 4% had used a regimen that did not include a PI, 19% had used a dual-NRTI regimen, and 29% had used zidovudine (ZDV) alone. A PI-based ART regimen was initiated in 90% of the women during the current pregnancy; in multivariate analysis, ARV exposure during a prior pregnancy was not associated with detectable viral load in the current pregnancy.
A separate study (ACTG A5227) evaluated viral suppression in 52 women who had previously taken ART to prevent perinatal transmission. These women had stopped taking ARV drugs at least 24 weeks before study entry and had initiated a regimen of efavirenz, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, and emtricitabine for treatment during the study.15 Previous drug-resistance tests had not documented resistance in any of the women, and standard bulk genotyping did not detect resistance in any of the women at screening. Viral suppression was observed in 81% of women after 24 weeks of follow-up. Neither the number of prior ARV drug exposures to prevent perinatal transmission nor the drug class of prior exposure were associated with a failure to achieve viral suppression. Recent clinical series have confirmed this observation.16,17
Management of Antiretroviral Drug Resistance during Pregnancy
Women who have documented ZDV resistance and who did not receive ZDV as part of their antepartum regimen should still receive intravenous (IV) ZDV during labor when indicated (IV zidovudine is indicated for women with HIV RNA >1,000 copies/mL near delivery; see Intrapartum Antiretroviral Therapy/Prophylaxis). A patient’s normal ART regimen should be continued orally during labor to the extent possible. The rationale for including ZDV intrapartum when a woman is known to harbor virus with ZDV resistance is based on several factors. Only wild-type virus appears to be transmitted to infants by mothers who have mixed populations of wild-type virus and virus with low-level ZDV resistance.18 Other studies have suggested that drug-resistance mutations may diminish viral fitness and possibly decrease transmissibility.8 The efficacy of ZDV prophylaxis appears to be based not only on a reduction in maternal HIV viral load but also on the use of pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis in the infant.19-21 ZDV crosses the placenta readily and has a high cord-to-maternal-blood ratio. In addition, ZDV is metabolized to the active triphosphate within the placenta,22,23 which may provide additional protection against transmission. ZDV penetrates the central nervous system (CNS) better than other nucleoside analogues except stavudine, which has similar CNS penetration; this may help eliminate a potential reservoir for transmitted HIV in the infant.24,25 ZDV’s unique characteristics and its proven record in reducing perinatal transmission support the recommendation to administer intrapartum IV ZDV when indicated, even in the presence of known ZDV resistance.
The optimal prophylactic regimen for newborns of women with drug-resistant virus is unknown. Therefore, ARV prophylaxis for infants born to women with known or suspected drug-resistant virus should be determined with the help of a pediatric HIV specialist, preferably before delivery (see Antiretroviral Management of Newborns with Perinatal HIV Exposure or Perinatal HIV). There is no evidence that neonatal prophylaxis regimens that have been customized to address maternal drug resistance are more effective than standard neonatal prophylaxis regimens.
Prevention of Antiretroviral Drug Resistance
The most effective way for a patient to prevent the development of ARV drug resistance in pregnancy is to adhere to an effective ARV regimen that achieves maximal viral suppression. However, several studies have demonstrated that women’s adherence to ART may worsen during the postpartum period.26-31
Previous versions of the Perinatal Guidelines have provided guidance for clinicians in cases where women stop their ART regimen postpartum. However, the Panel on Treatment of Pregnant Women with HIV Infection and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission strongly recommends that ART, once initiated, not be discontinued. If a woman desires to discontinue ART after delivery, a consultation with an HIV specialist is strongly recommended (see Discontinuation or Interruption of Antiretroviral Therapy in the Adult and Adolescent Antiretroviral Guidelines).
- Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study. Surveillance monitor of ART toxitities (SMARTT) study annual administrative report. 2017. Available at: https://phacsstudy.org/cms_uploads/Latest%20Documents/SMARTT_Annual_Administrative_Report_Apr2017_web.pdf.
- Stekler JD, McKernan J, Milne R, et al. Lack of resistance to integrase inhibitors among antiretroviral-naive subjects with primary HIV-1 infection, 2007-2013. Antivir Ther. 2015;20(1):77-80. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24831260.
- Menza TW, Billock R, Samoff E, Eron JJ, Dennis AM. Pretreatment integrase strand transfer inhibitor resistance in North Carolina from 2010–2016. AIDS. 2017;31(16):2235-2244. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28991024.
- Aldous AM, Castel AD, Parenti DM, D. C. Cohort Executive Committee. Prevalence and trends in transmitted and acquired antiretroviral drug resistance, Washington, DC, 1999-2014. BMC Res Notes. 2017;10(1):474. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28893321.
- Abram ME, Ram RR, Margot NA, et al. Lack of impact of pre-existing T97A HIV-1 integrase mutation on integrase strand transfer inhibitor resistance and treatment outcome. PLoS One. 2017;12(2):e0172206. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28212411.
- Koullias Y, Sax PE, Fields NF, Walensky RP, Hyle EP. Should we be testing for baseline Integrase resistance in patients newly diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus? Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(8):1274-1281. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28605418.
- Lazenby GB, Mmeje O, Fisher BM, et al. Antiretroviral resistance and pregnancy characteristics of women with perinatal and nonperinatal HIV infection. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2016;2016:4897501. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27413359.
- Sheth PM, Kovacs C, Kemal KS, et al. Persistent HIV RNA shedding in semen despite effective antiretroviral therapy. AIDS. 2009;23(15):2050-2054. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19710596.
- Yeganeh N, Kerin T, Ank B, et al. Human immunodeficiency virus antiretroviral resistance and transmission in mother-infant pairs enrolled in a large perinatal study. Clin Infect Dis. 2018;66(11):1770-1777. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29272365.
- Martinson NA, Ekouevi DK, Dabis F, et al. Transmission rates in consecutive pregnancies exposed to single-dose nevirapine in Soweto, South Africa and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2007;45(2):206-209. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17438480.
- Parker MM, Wade N, Lloyd RM, Jr., et al. Prevalence of genotypic drug resistance among a cohort of HIV-infected newborns. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2003;32(3):292-297. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12626889.
- Karchava M, Pulver W, Smith L, et al. Prevalence of drug-resistance mutations and non-subtype B strains among HIV-infected infants from New York State. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2006;42(5):614-619. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16868498.
- Frange P, Avettand-Fenoel V, Veber F, Blanche S, Chaix ML. Prevalence of drug resistance in children recently diagnosed with HIV-1 infection in France (2006-17): impact on susceptibility to first-line strategies. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2018;73(9):2475-2479. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29846602.
- Briand N, Mandelbrot L, Blanche S, et al. Previous antiretroviral therapy for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV does not hamper the initial response to PI-based multitherapy during subsequent pregnancy. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2011;57(2):126-135. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21436712.
- Vogler MA, Smeaton LM, Wright RL, et al. Combination antiretroviral treatment for women previously treated only in pregnancy: week 24 results of AIDS clinical trials group protocol a5227. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014;65(5):542-550. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24759064.
- Aziz N, Sokoloff A, Kornak J, et al. Time to viral load suppression in antiretroviral-naive and -experienced HIV-infected pregnant women on highly active antiretroviral therapy: implications for pregnant women presenting late in gestation. BJOG. 2013. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23924192.
- Boltz VF, Bao Y, Lockman S, et al. Low-frequency nevirapine (NVP)-resistant HIV-1 variants are not associated with failure of antiretroviral therapy in women without prior exposure to single-dose NVP. J Infect Dis. 2014;209(5):703-10 . Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24443547.
- Colgrove RC, Pitt J, Chung PH, Welles SL, Japour AJ. Selective vertical transmission of HIV-1 antiretroviral resistance mutations. AIDS. 1998;12(17):2281-2288. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9863870.
- Sperling RS, Shapiro DE, Coombs RW, et al. Maternal viral load, zidovudine treatment, and the risk of transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 from mother to infant. Pediatric AIDS clinical trials group protocol 076 study group. N Engl J Med. 1996;335(22):1621-1629. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8965861.
- Wade NA, Birkhead GS, Warren BL, et al. Abbreviated regimens of zidovudine prophylaxis and perinatal transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus. N Engl J Med. 1998;339(20):1409-1414. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9811915.
- Melvin AJ, Burchett SK, Watts DH, et al. Effect of pregnancy and zidovudine therapy on viral load in HIV-1-infected women. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1997;14(3):232-236. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9117455.
- Qian M, Bui T, Ho RJ, Unadkat JD. Metabolism of 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT) in human placental trophoblasts and Hofbauer cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 1994;48(2):383-389. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8053935.
- Sandberg JA, Binienda Z, Lipe G, et al. Placental transfer and fetal disposition of 2',3'-dideoxycytidine and 2',3'-dideoxyinosine in the rhesus monkey. Drug Metabolism Dispos: the biological fate of chemicals. 1995;23(8):881-884. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7493557.
- Peters PJ, Stringer J, McConnell MS, et al. Nevirapine-associated hepatotoxicity was not predicted by CD4 count >/=250 cells/muL among women in Zambia, Thailand and Kenya. HIV Med. 2010;11(10):650-660. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20659176.
- Thomas SA. Anti-HIV drug distribution to the central nervous system. Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10(12):1313-1324. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15134483.
- Cohn SE, Umbleja T, Mrus J, Bardeguez AD, Andersen JW, Chesney MA. Prior illicit drug use and missed prenatal vitamins predict nonadherence to antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy: adherence analysis A5084. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008;22(1):29-40. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18442305.
- Bardeguez AD, Lindsey JC, Shannon M, et al. Adherence to antiretrovirals among US women during and after pregnancy. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008;48(4):408-417. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18614923.
- Mellins CA, Chu C, Malee K, et al. Adherence to antiretroviral treatment among pregnant and postpartum HIV-infected women. AIDS Care. 2008;20(8):958-968. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18608073.
- Rana AI, Gillani FS, Flanigan TP, Nash BT, Beckwith CG. Follow-up care among HIV-infected pregnant women in Mississippi. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010;19(10):1863-1867. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20831428.
- Anderson J. Women and HIV: motherhood and more. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2012;25(1):58-65. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22156896.
- Nachega JB, Uthman OA, Anderson J, et al. Adherence to antiretroviral therapy during and after pregnancy in low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. AIDS. 2012;26(16):2039-2052. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22951634.
- AIDSinfo Drug Database
- AIDSinfo Patient Materials: Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV
- AIDSinfo Patient Materials: HIV Medicines During Pregnancy and Childbirth
- AIDSinfo Patient Materials: Protecting Baby from HIV
- AETC National HIV Curriculum
- How to Cite These Guidelines
- Perinatal Guidelines Archive