Increased Transmission of Vertical Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-Infected Infants of HIV- and HCV-Coinfected Women

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The transmission of perinatal hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was studied retrospectively in 62 infants born to 54 HCV- and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-coinfected women enrolled in a prospective natural history study of HIV transmission. Infant HCV infection was assessed by nested RNA polymerase chain reaction. The overall rate of vertical HCV transmission was 16.4% (9/62). Most HCV-infected children did not develop antibodies to HCV. The rate of HCV infection was higher among HIV-infected infants (40%) than among HIV-uninfected infants (7.5%; odds ratio, 8.2; P = .009). This difference in transmission was not related to differences in maternal HCV load, as measured by branched DNA assay, or mode of delivery. Why HIV-infected infants of HCV-and HIV-coinfected women have significantly higher rates of perinatal HCV transmission remains to be elucidated. The rate of HCV transmission in HIV-uninfected infants of HCV- and HIV-coinfected women is similar to that reported for infants born to HIV-seronegative mothers.

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