Authors:Ferenc D. Tóth, Attila Bácsi, Zoltán Beck, and et al.
Sensitive detection methods, such as DNA PCR and RNA PCR suggest that vertical transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) occurs at three major time periods; in utero, around the time of birth, and postpartum as a result of breastfeeding (Fig. 1). Detection of proviral DNA in infant's blood at birth suggests that transmission occurred prior to delivery. A working definition for time of infection is that HIV detection by DNA PCR in the first 48 h of life indicates in utero transmission, while peripartum transmission is considered if DNA PCR is negative the first 48 h, but then it is positive 7 or more days later . Generally, in the breastfeeding population, breast milk transmission is thought to occur if virus is not detected by PCR at 3–5 months of life but is detected thereafter within the breastfeeding period . Using these definitions and guidelines, studies has suggested that in developed countries the majority, or two thirds of vertical transmission occur peripartum, and one-third in utero [3–6]. The low rate of breastfeeding transmission is due to the practice of advising known HIV-positive mothers not to feed breast milk. However, since the implementation of antiretroviral treatment in prophylaxis of HIV-positive mothers, some studies have suggested that in utero infection accounts for a larger percentage of vertical transmissions . In developing countries, although the majority of infections occurs also peripartum, a significant percentage, 10–17%, is thought to be due to breastfeeding [2, 8, 9].