Detection of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA and p24 antigen in breast milk of HIV-1-infected Ugandan women and vertical transmission

Laura A. Guay, David L. Hom, Francis Mmiro, Estelle M. Piwowar, Sam Kabengera, Jana Parsons, Christopher Ndugwa, Lawrence Marum, Karen Olness, Peter Kataaha, J. Brooks Jackson

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50 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the correlation between the detection of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in breast milk, the duration of breastfeeding, and vertical transmission of HIV-1 infection in Ugandan women. Methods. A prospective study of HIV-1 infection in pregnant Ugandan women and their infants has been ongoing since 1990 with follow-up of mother-infant pairs for at least 2 years. Expressed breast milk specimens were collected from 201 HIV-1-seropositive and 86 HIV-1-seronegative Ugandan women approximately 6 weeks after delivery. The presence of HIV-1 DNA in the cellular fraction of the breast milk was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and HIV-1 p24 antigen was detected in the cell-free breast milk supernatant using p24 antigen enzyme immunoassay (EIA) after immune complex dissociation (ICD). The duration of breastfeeding and the clinical status of the mothers and their children were recorded. HIV-1 EIA, Western blot, PCR, or p24 antigen detection were used for the determination of the HIV-1 infection status of the children. Results. Of the 201 HIV-1-infected women studied, 47 had HIV-1-infected children, 143 had children who seroreverted, and 11 had children of indeterminate status. Breast milk supernatants were available for ICD p24 antigen testing from 188 of the HIV- 1-infected women and none had detectable p24 antigen. Breast milk cell pellets were available and contained amplifiable DNA in 125 of the HIV-1- infected women (20 transmitters, 104 nontransmitters, 1 indeterminate). HIV- 1 DNA was detected by PCR in 72% (75/104) of nontransmitters and 80% (16/20) of the transmitters. The duration of breastfeeding by transmitter mothers (15.8 months) was not significantly different from nontransmitter mothers (14.4 months). Conclusions. No correlation was found between the detection of HIV-1 in breast milk or the duration of breastfeeding and transmission of HIV-1 infection in this study of Ugandan women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-444
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996


  • HIV-1
  • PCR
  • Uganda
  • breast milk
  • p24 antigen
  • vertical transmission


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