Background: HIV-infected infants in sub-Saharan Africa have rapid disease progression. We hypothesized that co-infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) or Epstein Barr virus (EBV) increases mortality in HIV-infected infants. Methods: 257 antiretroviral therapy-naïve HIV-infected Zimbabwean infants were tested for CMV and EBV at 6 weeks of age by real-time PCR; if positive, birth samples were retrieved where available to distinguish congenital and postnatal infection. The impact of co-infection on mortality through 6 months was estimated using Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards methods. Results: At 6 weeks, 203/257 (79%) HIV-infected infants were CMV-positive; 27 (11%) had congenital CMV, 108 (42%) postnatal CMV and 68 (26%) indeterminate timing of infection. By 6 months, 37/108 (34%) infants with postnatal CMV versus 16/54 (30%) CMV-negative infants died (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.1 [95%CI 0.6, 2.2]). At 6 weeks, 33/257 (13%) HIV-infected infants had EBV co-infection; 6 (2%) had congenital EBV, 18 (7%) postnatal EBV and 9 (4%) indeterminate timing of infection. By 6 months, 5/18 (28%) infants with postnatal EBV versus 72/224 (32%) EBV-negative infants died (aHR 0.8 [95%CI 0.3, 2.3]). Conclusions: The vast majority of HIV-infants had acquired CMV by 6 weeks, and EBV co-infection occurred earlier than expected, with one in eight HIV-infected infants positive for EBV by 6 weeks. There was a high prevalence of congenital CMV infection and we identified 6 infants with congenital EBV infection, which has not previously been reported in Africa or in the context of HIV infection. Neither CMV nor EBV co-infection was associated with increased mortality.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)