The Role of Multivitamins in Delaying HIV Progression in Pregnant Women

It is a well known fact that pregnant women should take extra multivitamins to sustain their immune system functioning and other body functions. It has also been found that the addition of a good multivitamin to the diet of an HIV positive individual assists in the delay of the progression of the disease. Thus it would stand to reason that it is even more important for a pregnant woman with HIV to take the correct multivitamin supplements during pregnancy and after birth.

A study of a number of Tanzanian women with HIV, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the John E. Fogarty International Center (FIC) for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences, found that increased intake of vitamin B complex, Vitamin C and vitamin E during pregnancy and for a minimum of five years following the birth of the child decreased the severity of the symptoms of AIDS. It was also noted that the supplements increased the number of immune cells and reduced the viral load to a small degree. For more information on hiv insurance, go to

The study took place over the period between 1995 and 2003. The subjects were 1078 women from Dar es Salaam who were infected with HIV and pregnant. The subjects were divided into four groups, each of which received a different level of vitamin supplement. All groups were provided with folic acid and iron supplements for the duration of their pregnancy. The majority of the women took part in the study for at least for years following the birth of their children. Regular tests were administered to chart the progression of their infection to establish the effect the various levels of supplement had on the viral load and immune functioning of the infected women.

Seven percent of the women who were given a multivitamin progressed from HIV infection to AIDS during the course of the study. Twelve percent of the women in the placebo group, those who only received folic acid and iron supplements, progressed from HIV infection to AIDS during the course of the study. This was a statistically significant result. Nineteen percent of the multivitamin group passed away whilst twenty five percent of the placebo group passed away during the course of the study. It should be noted that the difference here is not statistically significant.

It was found that the effects of the multivitamin supplements was most evident during the first two years of the study. Fewer symptoms of advanced HIV infection were noted in the multivitamin group than in the placebo group. The women who received the multivitamin also showed higher CD4+ T cell counts and lower viral loads than the women in the placebo group.

The resulting conclusion is that taking a multivitamin supplement may enable women who are infected with the virus to be able to manage without the antiretroviral treatment for longer. This is especially important in developing countries where health care is limited at best and non-existent at worst. By limiting the number of individuals who require the antiretroviral medication the medical practitioners are able to provide the treatment for those individuals who require treatment most.


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