Does umbilical cord blood polymerase chain reaction positivity indicate in utero (pre-labor) HIV infection?

Robert J. Biggar, Laban Mtimavalye, Aafke Justesen, Robin Broadhead, Wendel Miley, David Waters, James J. Goedert, John D. Chiphangwi, Taha E. Taha, Paolo G. Miotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To compare risk factors for infants whose cord blood was positive for HIV DNA with those who were cord blood-negative but found to be HIV DNApositive in early infancy. Methods: In 1994, infants born to HIV-infected women were enrolled in a study in Blantyre, Malawi. Birth weight and transmission risk factors from cord blood positive infants were compared with cord blood-negative/HIV-positive infants on their first postnatal visit (4-7 weeks of age). Testing for HIV DNA on cord and peripheral blood was performed by polymerase chain reaction. Results: Of 249 HIV-infected infants (overall transmission rate, 26%), 83 (33%) were cord blood-positive and 166 were initially cord blood-negative. The mean birth weight was 2.1% (59 g) lighter in cord blood-positive infants than initially cord blood-negative infants; initially cord blood-negative infants were 2.8% (80 g) lighter than uninfected infants born to HIV-infected women. There were no significant differences in the risk factors for infection between HIV-infected cord blood-positive and -negative infants; when transmission was increased, both HIV-infected cord blood-positive and -negative infants contributed to the increase in a similar proportion. Interpretation: It was concluded that umbilical cold blood positivity for HIV DNA did not identify a subset of in utero HIV-infected infants and suggested that HIV-infected cord blood-positive and -negative infants have similar timing and routes of HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1375-1382
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • AIDS
  • Cord blood
  • HIV
  • Infants
  • Perinatal transmission
  • Vertical transmission
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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