One Type of ART in HIV-Positive Pregnant Women Likely Increases Risk of Neurological Problems in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Claudia Syueping Crowell, MD Lead author of the study Assistant professor of pediatrics University of Washington and  Seattle Children's Hospital

Dr. Syueping Crowell

Claudia Syueping Crowell, MD
Lead author of the study
Assistant professor of pediatrics
University of Washington and
Seattle Children’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • This research was conducted as part of the SMARTT (Surveillance Monitoring for ART Toxicities) study, which is an observational cohort study of HIV exposed uninfected children with the overall aim of studying the long-term safety of fetal and infant exposure to prophylactic antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.
  • This particular analysis was conducted in response to prior studies that showed an increased risk of seizures and other neurologic conditions in children who were exposed to ARVs in utero.
  • The aim of our study was to determine if in utero exposure to any particular ARV is associated with the diagnosis of neurologic conditions later in infancy and childhood.
  • In our cohort of 3747 HIV-exposed uninfected children we found 237 children who had neurologic conditions, 16 of whom were exposed to efavirenz in utero and 4 of whom were exposed to dolutegravir in utero.
  • The most common neurologic diagnoses were microcephaly, febrile seizures, non-febrile seizures and eye related disorders.
  • When comparing various antiretroviral medications, we found that children of women whose ART regimen included efavirenz were more likely to be diagnosed with a neurologic condition than children of women whose ART regimen did not include efavirenz (9.6% vs. 6.2%). This translated to a 60% higher risk of being diagnosed with a neurologic condition in the efavirenz exposed group after controlling for other risk factors.
  • We also found a suggestion of an association between in utero dolutegravir exposure and later diagnosis of a neurologic condition but the number of children exposed to dolutegravir was small (number of exposed children = 94). 

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Brief Interruption of HIV Treatment Did Not Lead To Irreversible Expansion of Viral Reservoir

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“HIV-infected T cell” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

HIV-infected T-cell
NIAID image

Tae-Wook Chun, Ph.D.
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: While antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved the clinical outcome for people living with HIV, persistence of viral reservoirs in the peripheral blood and lymphoid tissues remains a hurdle to complete eradication of virus and cure of the infection. We know the vast majority of people living with HIV will experience plasma viral rebound within weeks of cessation of therapy. Considering that current research on the treatment of people living with HIV has been heavily focused on developing strategies aimed at achieving sustained virologic remission in the absence of ART, it is of great interest to investigate whether treatment interruption results in expansion of the viral reservoir and/or damage to the immune system. Using data from a recently concluded trial that employed short-term analytical treatment interruption (ATI), we found that, as expected, HIV DNA increased in the CD4+ T cells of individuals living with HIV during the treatment interruption phase. However, the size of the HIV reservoirs as well as immune parameters returned to baseline 6–12 months after the participants resumed ART.  Continue reading