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Pregnancy Complications

HIV/AIDS in Pregnancy

Herpes Virus Speeds Progression
of HIV to AIDs in Infected Infants

A new report says that infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) before birth or in the first months of life can speed the progression from HIV to AIDS in infected infants. (Notes: CMV is a herpes-type virus that is relatively harmless in those with healthy immune systems, but can cause potentially life-threatening eye and brain infections in those with compromised immune systems; about 0.2 percent to 2.2 percent of infants in the general population are born infected with CMV.) Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles conducted a study of 440 infants born to HIV-infected mothers, including 75 infants who also were infected with HIV themselves, to collect data; 4 percent of the infants were born with CMV, regardless of HIV status. It was found that about 70 percent of infants with both HIV and CMV showed disease progression by age 18 months, compared to 30 percent of infants infected only with HIV. It was also found that 36 percent of infants with both HIV and CMV infection had impaired brain growth or motor deficits, compared to only 9 percent of infants infected with HIV alone. Authors say that over half of infants with both HIV and CMV had an AIDS defining condition or died by 18 months. The report concludes that any attempts to prevent CMV infection in the offspring of HIV-1 infected women will have to target the perinatal period and the first 18 months of life. The report is in "The New England Journal of Medicine" (1999;341:77-84).

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