Infants Born to HIV-Positive Women With Herpes More Likely to Contract HIV, Study Says
Infants born to HIV-positive women diagnosed with genital herpes during pregnancy are more likely to contract HIV, according to a study published in the December 2005 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reuters reports. Katherine Chen of Columbia University and colleagues looked at 402 HIV-positive pregnant women in New York City between 1994 and 1999. Researchers found that of the 21 women diagnosed with genital herpes during pregnancy, six gave birth to an HIV-positive infant. The researchers accounted for other factors that can contribute to mother-to-child HIV transmission and found that genital herpes infection raised the risk of MTCT nearly fivefold (Harding, Reuters, 12/28/05). According to the researchers, factors such as a lack of antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy or labor, rupture of membranes and preterm delivery also put infants born to HIV-positive women with genital herpes at an increased risk of contracting HIV (Chen et al., Obstetrics and Gynecology, December 2005). However, Chen said more studies need to be carried out to confirm the findings. She added it still needs to be determined if HIV-positive women with current or prior histories of genital herpes should receive herpes treatment through pregnancy to prevent vertical HIV and herpes transmission. Chen and colleagues currently are conducting a trial to analyze HIV and genital herpes viral levels among HIV-positive women, according to Reuters (Reuters, 12/28/05).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.