Summary: Breast milk specimens from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-seropositive and HIV-1-seronegative women were examined for the presence of HIV-1 p24 antigen by the antigen capture method and for viral DNA using the polymerase chain reaction. HIV-1 DNA was present in 70% of milk specimens collected from 47 HIV-seropositive women 0-4 days after delivery and in ~50% of specimens collected 6 and 12 months postpartum. p24 antigen, present in 24% of milk specimens collected from 37 seropositive women within the first 4 days postpartum, was not detected in any of the subsequent specimens. The presence of HIV-1 DNA or p24 antigen in milk was not significantly associated with maternal CD4 lymphocyte count, [beta]2-microglobulin level, or fulfillment of the AIDS clinical case definition. Although the correlation of either HIV-1 proviral DNA or p24 antigen with the presence of infectious virus is not known, these data indicate the need for additional studies examining the role of breastfeeding in maternal-infant transmission of HIV-1.
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