HIV-infected teens at high pregnancy risk

Teenage girls and young women infected with HIV get pregnant more often and suffer pregnancy complications.

Updated: Feb 02, 2011, 20:32 PM IST

Johns Hopkins scientists have revealed that teenage girls and young women infected with HIV get pregnant more often and suffer pregnancy complications more frequently than their HIV-negative peers.
The findings come from a multi-center study based on an analysis of records from 181 patients with HIV, ages 13 to 24, treated at four hospitals over 12 years.

The investigators say the findings are alarming for at least two reasons.

First, teen pregnancies — planned or not — put these already vulnerable patients and their foetuses in grave danger for complications.

Second, the findings signal that HIV-infected teens and young women continue to practice unsafe sexual behaviours and to have unprotected sex, the researchers said.

Pregnancy rates were especially high in one subgroup of HIV-infected youth — teens who acquired the virus behaviourally rather than during birth.

Behaviourally infected teens had five times the number of pregnancies compared to their HIV-negative counterparts and were more prone to premature births and spontaneous abortions than their HIV-negative peers.

More than one-third of the 181 patients in the study got pregnant, some of whom had more than one pregnancy for a total of 96 pregnancies.

Premature births were more common among HIV-infected mothers (34 per cent), compared with moms in the general population (22 per cent) as were spontaneous abortions, 14 per cent among HIV-infected moms compared with 9 per cent among pregnant women in the general population.

The findings have been published in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.