UNC bioethicist addresses lack of HIV studies in pregnant women

UNC School of Medicine’s Anne Lyerly is addressing the urgent need for effective HIV prevention and treatment for the estimated 1.5 million women worldwide with HIV who give birth each year. With a $3 million NIH grant, Dr. Lyerly is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers to determine what barriers prevent investigators from studying the virus in pregnant women.

Lyerly, associate director of the UNC Center for Bioethics and associate professor of social medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, is also an obstetrician/gynecologist who studies ethically complex clinical and policy issues related to women’s reproductive health.

In the August issue of the Journal of the International AIDS Society, Lyerly addresses the lack of research of HIV-positive pregnant women and pregnant women who are at risk of contracting HIV, which has “led to a dearth of evidence to guide safe and effective treatment and prevention of HIV in pregnancy,” Lyerly wrote.

In the research on the HIV-positive pregnant women that has been done, most outcomes focus entirely on the health of the fetus. Pregnant women are excluded from the vast majority of studies, including studies on how to best prevent HIV.

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