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Values and preferences of women living with HIV who are pregnant, postpartum or considering pregnancy on choice of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy

11 Sep 2017


To investigate women’s values and preferences regarding antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy to inform a BMJ Rapid Recommendation.


Primary studies reporting patient-reported outcomes relevant to decision-making regarding ART in any clinical and geographical setting.


Women living with HIV who are pregnant, postpartum or considering pregnancy.

Outcome measures

Quantitative measurements and qualitative descriptions of values and preferences in relation to ART during pregnancy. We also included studies on women’s reported barriers and facilitators to adherence. We excluded studies correlating objective measures (eg, CD4 count) with adherence, or reporting only outcomes which are not expected to differ between ART alternatives (eg, access to services, knowledge about ART).


We included 15 qualitative studies reporting values and preferences about ART in the peripartum period; no study directly studied choice of ART therapy during pregnancy. Six themes emerged: a desire to reduce vertical transmission (nine studies), desire for child to be healthy (five studies), concern about side effects to the child (eight studies), desire for oneself to be healthy (five studies), distress about side effect to oneself (10 studies) and pill burden (two studies). None of the studies weighed the relative importance of these outcomes directly, but pill burden/medication complexity appears to be a lower priority for most women compared with other factors. Overall, the body of evidence was at low risk of bias, with minor limitations.


Women who are or may become pregnant and who are considering ART appear to place a high value on both their own and their children’s health. Evidence on the relative importance between these values when choosing between ART regimens is uncertain. There is variability in individual values and preferences among women. This highlights the importance of an individualised women-centred approach, such as shared decision-making when choosing between ART alternatives.

Trial registration number

International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews:CRD42017057157.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open

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