Maternal HIV-1 and HIV-2 infection and child survival in The Gambia


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo compare the survival of children born to HIV-1 or HIV-2 seropositive mothers with that of children born to HIV-seronegative mothers and to evaluate risk factors for mortality.DesignPhysician-blinded prospective study.MethodsOne hundred and one HIV-1-seropositive, 243 HIV-2-seropositive pregnant women, and 468 HIV-seronegative women (control group) matched by age, parity, and health centre, were followed up in a study of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Mothers and children were seen at 2 and 6 months of age and subsequently followed at 3-monthly intervals up to 18 months of age. HIV infection in children was diagnosed by polymerase chain reaction at 2, 9 or 18 months and by antibody assays at 18 months.ResultsFifteen per cent of children born to HIV-1-infected mothers died compared with 7% of children born to HIV-2-infected mothers [hazard ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1–4.7;P = 0.02], and 6% of HIV-seronegative mothers (hazard ratio, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4–5.0;P = 0.003). Six of the 17 children known to be HIV-1 infected died compared with none among the eight HIV-2-infected children (P = 0.13). High proviral load in the babies, high antenatal maternal RNA plasma viral load, and maternal death increased child mortality significantly.ConclusionsMore children born to HIV-1-infected mothers died in comparison with those born to HIV-2-infected mothers or to mothers from the control group. This effect was due to excess death in HIV-1-infected infants which was associated with a high viral load in the affected mother and child.

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