Aims of the guidelines These guidelines, drawn up by a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and lay workers active in the management of pregnant women infected with HIV, aim to give up-to-date information on interventions to reduce the risk of mother to child transmission of the virus. The evidence on the use of interventions to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV has been graded according to the strength of the data as per the definitions of the US Agency for Health Care Policy and Research . Weighted evidence on the use of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the treatment of HIV infection per se is presented in the BHIVA guidelines for adults [2,3]. The highest level evidence (i.e. randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or large, well conducted meta-analyses) is only available for formula feeding, prelabour caesarean section and zidovudine monotherapy. The need to treat mothers for HIV infection has led to the widespread use of ART in pregnancy which in turn results in new questions such as how to deliver when the mother, on therapy, has no detectable plasma viraemia with the most sensitive assays. In addressing many common and/or difficult clinical scenarios in the absence of ‘best evidence’ the guidelines rely heavily on ‘expert opinion’.
Recommendations for management are given in the section on clinical scenarios, and summarized in Table 3. An expanded version of these guidelines with an appendix on safety and toxicity data is available on the BHIVA website http://www.bhiva.org. The authors are available to discuss individual cases.