The worldwide incidence of pregnancy for women living with perinatal HIV infection is increasing. Subsequently, there is growing risk of second-generation mother-to-child HIV transmission. The infant clinical outcomes for such a phenomenon have yet to be described.
As part of a wider observational study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, six infants with in-utero HIV infection were identified as being born to mothers with perinatal HIV infection.
Blood results and clinical data were collected in the first 3 years of life. In two cases, sample availability allowed confirmation by phylogenetic analysis of grandmother-to-mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Outcomes were poor in all six cases. All six mothers had difficulty administering twice daily combination antiretroviral therapy to their infants due to difficulties with acceptance, disclosure, poor health and being themselves long-term nonprogressors. Nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-resistant virus was detected in all mothers tested. None of the infants maintained suppression of viraemia on combination antiretroviral therapy. One infant died, and another was lost to follow-up.
As the numbers of second-generation mother-to-child transmissions increase, it is important to highlight that this mother–infant dyad represents an extremely vulnerable group. In order for them to survive and thrive, these infants’ mothers require their specific needs to be addressed and given intensive support.