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Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV Infection in Southeastern Nigeria: Prevalence of HIV Infection Among HIV-Exposed Babies

EE Ugochukwu
SO Kalu


BACKGROUND: Vertical transmission of HIV-1 is responsible for a high level of infant mortality necessitating early infant diagnosis. Serologic tests are not useful because of persistence of maternal antibodies in infants. Amplification of the integrated viral genome by PCR is the preferred method of diagnosis of HIV infection in these children.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of HIV among a cohort of HIV-exposed babies.
METHODS: HIV-exposed infants were recruited for DNA PCR (early infant diagnosis). Babies were enrolled from six weeks of age. Relevant data were collected with the aid of a proforma. Mothers were given pre-test counselling. Heel or finger prick samples of blood on Whatman filter paper were used for DNA PCR testing.
RESULTS: Data on the initial 304 babies enrolled for DNA PCR were analyzed. Seven (3.6%) of 192 mother-baby pairs who had received requisite prophylactic anti-retrovirals (PARV) were PCR-positive. In 23 (8.7%) PCR-positive babies, their mothers received PARV but the babies had no post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), while two (12.5%) of 16 babies who had received PARV without their mothers turned out PCR-positive. Thirty-nine (53.4%) of 73 mother-baby pairs who had no PARV were infected. Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rate was 35.5%. In these babies
five (18.5%) were infected, while 288 (75%) of babies were exclusive formula fed (EFF), out of which 11 (4.8%) were infected. Forty-seven (15.5%) of the babies were mixed-fed, and 32 (68.0%) of them were infected.

CONCLUSION: Prophylactic ARV in mothers and babies gave a marked reduction in Mother-to-Child-Transmission (MTCT) rate. Feeding BMS conferred a superior protection against (MTCT) than EBF.

WAJM 2009; 29(1): 3–7.

Keywords: Early infant diagnosis of HIV, DNA PCR, dried blood spot.

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eISSN: 0189-160X