Background: In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) amended their 2010 guidelines for women receiving limited duration, triple-antiretroviral drug regimens during pregnancy and breastfeeding for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (tARV-PMTCT) (Option B) to include the option to continue lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) (Option B+). We evaluated clinical and CD4 outcomes in women who had received antiretrovirals for prevention of mother-to-child transmission and then discontinued antiretrovirals 6-months postpartum.
Methods and Findings: The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study, 2003–2009, was a prospective, non-randomized, open-label clinical trial of tARV-PMTCT in ARV-naïve, Kenyan women. Women received tARV-PMTCT from 34 weeks’ gestation until 6-months postpartum when women were instructed to discontinue breastfeeding. Women with CD4 count (CD4) <250cells/mm3 or WHO stage III/IV prior to 6-months postpartum continued cART indefinitely. We estimated the change in CD4 after discontinuing tARV-PMTCT and the adjusted relative risk [aRR] for factors associated with declines in maternal CD4. We compared maternal and infant outcomes following weaning–when tARV-PMTCT discontinued–by maternal ARV status through 24-months postpartum. Compared with women who continued cART, discontinuing antiretrovirals was associated with infant HIV transmission and death (10.1% vs. 2.4%; P = 0.03). Among women who discontinued antiretrovirals, CD4<500 cells/mm3 at either initiation (21.8% vs. 1.5%; P = 0.002; aRR: 9.8; 95%-confidence interval [CI]: 2.4–40.6) or discontinuation (36.9% vs. 8.3%; P<0.0001; aRR: 4.4; 95%-CI: 1.9–5.0) were each associated with increased risk of women requiring cART for their own health within 6 months after discontinuing.
Conclusions: Considering the serious health risks to the woman’s infant and the brief reprieve from cART gained by stopping, every country should evaluate the need for and feasibility to implement WHO Option B+ for PMTCT. Evaluating CD4 at antiretroviral initiation or 6-months postpartum can identify pregnant women who would most benefit from continuing cART in settings unable to implement WHO Option B+.