By Martha Henry
Time is critical in much of medicine. This is especially true for pregnant HIV-infected women who want their children to be born HIV-free. About 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant annually. If these expectant mothers begin taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) before the third trimester of pregnancy, their risk of passing HIV to their babies can be reduced to as low as 1%. Without ARVs, the rate of infant infection is between 25-40%.
We have the knowledge and medications, yet less than one third of eligible women worldwide begin taking ARVs prior to delivery. In Botswana, where 29% of pregnant women are HIV positive, researchers want to do better.