Pregnancy May Not Imperil HIV-Negative Prostitutes
January 17, 2003
In a study of prostitutes in India, women who had been repeatedly exposed to HIV without becoming infected had normal pregnancies and gave birth to healthy babies. Neither the babies nor the mothers became HIV-positive during the study.Adapted from:
Researchers are not sure how the women have been able to stay HIV- negative, but they suggest that some people may have some sort of natural immunity against the virus. Several studies have found that a small number of people who are exposed to HIV over and over again never test positive for the virus. Either their body does not produce antibodies in response to HIV infection or they do not become infected at all. The full report, "Course and Outcome of Pregnancy in 54 Persistently HIV-1 Seronegative Sex Workers and Their Infants," was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine (2003;47:1016-1020).
In the study, researchers identified 98 prostitutes who, despite routinely having unprotected sex with many clients, remained HIV-negative for at least three years. Fifty-four of these women, who were all sex workers in Manipur, India, became pregnant.
Pregnancy's effect on a woman's ability to avoid HIV infection is uncertain, so the researchers followed the pregnant prostitutes and compared them to 58 pregnant women living in the same city who were also HIV-negative, but who were not sex workers.
Pregnancy and childbirth were similar for both groups of women. Women in both groups remained healthy during pregnancy, and their children were born healthy and HIV-negative.
According to the team led by Dr. Rachana M. Chibber of King Faisal University in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, this study shows that there are some people who seem to be protected from HIV infection. Rather than having an HIV infection that failed to show up on lab tests, these prostitutes appeared to have some sort of "natural protective immunity" to the virus, according to the study.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.