We conducted secondary data analyses of a clinical trial (HIVNET 024) to assess risk factors for late postnatal transmission (LPT) of HIV-1 through breastfeeding.
Data regarding live born, singleton infants of HIV-1-infected mothers were analyzed. The timing of HIV-1 transmission through 12 months after birth was defined as: in utero (positive HIV-1 RNA results at birth), perinatal/early postnatal (negative results at birth, positive at 4–6 week visit), or LPT (negative results through the 4–6 week visit, but positive assays thereafter through the 12 month visit). HIV-1-uninfected infants were those with negative HIV-1 enzyme immunoassay results at 12 months of age, or infants with negative HIV-1 RNA results throughout follow-up.
Of 2292 HIV-1-infected enrolled women, 2052 mother/infant pairs met inclusion criteria. Of 1979 infants with HIV-1 tests, 404 were HIV-1-infected, and 382 had known timing of infection (LPT represented 22% of transmissions). Further analyses of LPT included infants who were breastfeeding at the 4–6 week visit (with negative HIV-1 results at that visit) revealed 6.9% of 1317 infants acquired HIV-1 infection through LPT by 12 months of age. More advanced maternal HIV-1 disease at enrollment (lower CD4+ counts, higher plasma viral loads) were the factors associated with LPT in adjusted analyses.
In this breastfeeding population, 6.9% of infants uninfected at 6 weeks of age acquired HIV-1 infection by 12 months. Making interventions to decrease the risk of LPT of HIV-1 available and continuing research regarding the mechanisms of LPT (so as to develop improved interventions to reduce such transmission) remain essential.