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||Mother-to-child transmission of HIV: implications of variation in maternal infectivity.
||Dunn DT, Tess BH, Rodrigues LC, Ades AE
||1998 Nov 12
||OBJECTIVES: To examine the implications of variation in maternal infectivity on the timing of mother-to-child HIV transmission through breastfeeding. DESIGN AND METHODS: A mathematical model of mother-to-child HIV transmission was developed that incorporates two main features: (i) the fetus/child potentially experiences a series of exposures (in utero, intrapartum, and via breastmilk) to HIV; and (ii) variation in maternal infectivity. The model was estimated from different sources of epidemiological data: a retrospective cohort study of children born to HIV-1-infected women in Sao Paulo State, Brazil, the International Registry of HIV-Exposed Twins, and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group 076 trial, which assessed the effectiveness of zidovudine in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission. RESULTS: Variation in maternal infectivity results in higher average risk of breastfeeding-related transmission in the early stages of breastfeeding than in the late stages, even in the absence of a direct relationship between transmission risk and the age of the child. However, the available data were unable to resolve the quantitative importance of this mechanism. CONCLUSIONS: Our model has helped identify a previously unrecognized determinant of the timing of breastfeeding-related HIV transmission, which may have adverse implications for the effectiveness of certain interventions to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission such as maternal antiretroviral therapy in breastfeeding populations and the early cessation of breastfeeding.