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infant hiv+ve

Nov 20, 2009

Hi Doc, we just got a new baby last month(i.e. 17.10.09) My biggest sadness is that our couple don't even know that my spouse is an Hiv+ve, before delivering our baby my wife was tested and found positive,her actual delivery time was about 2 and 45 minutes, just after she delivered, our baby was also tested and found positive, doctors and nurses told us that the baby situation is not cleared now, after 1 and half years we will test it again to confirm. So what i realy want to know is that, does the baby have any chance to be negative? if so how and why? I also want to know that, just after the day our baby was born, i too get tested and was negative, me and my wife have many unprotected sex for over a year, why didn't i get infected when i'm having an unprotected sex for over a year??? I'm not circumcised but my penis fore skin can never get closing up my penis head, what will be the real reason? do i have to get test again in the future? i will be very gladfull if you could give me some answer and help...

Response from Dr. Frascino


HIV can be transmitted from mother to infant during late pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding. Not all HIV-positive women will give birth to HIV-infected babies. However, determining if a newborn from an HIV-positive mother is infected can be complicated, because antibodies (including anti-HIV antibodies) from the mother pass through the placenta into the baby, even if the virus doesn't. This means the newborn will test HIV positive (due to transferred maternal antibodies), even though he may not be HIV infected.

Maternal antibodies transmitted to the baby can persist for up to 18 months. That's why your doctor suggested you retest the infant in 1.5 years. If PCR testing is available in your area, this can be used, because it assays for a piece of the virus itself and is not dependent on HIV antibodies. Check with your pediatrician to see if you can get this type of testing for your new addition.

As for your situation, not every HIV exposure results in HIV transmission. It's possible that you had multiple HIV exposures via unprotected sex with your HIV-positive wife and yet did not contract the virus! The CDC statistical estimate for acquiring HIV (per-act) from unprotected insertive penile-vaginal sex with a partner confirmed to be HIV infected is 5 per 10,000 exposures.

From this point on, however, you shouldn't push your luck. There is no guarantee that you won't contract the virus with your very next unprotected exposure. You should immediately begin using latex or polyurethane condoms for all penetrative sex. You'll also need to be HIV tested at both the three- an six-month marks from the date of your last exposure.

Good luck to you and your family.

Dr. Bob

Can PEP lead to a false negative on a PCR?
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